I spend most of my time surrounded by donations to MADRE. As a Helping Hands Campaign intern, it is almost guaranteed that I can be found rummaging through boxes filled with donations. Some might find this odd – why is she always back there?
And the answer is that I honestly love being a member of Helping Hands for this very particular reason: to be entirely hands-on. I enjoy venturing out of the office to personally meet donors and pick up donations, and I like physically packing the boxes and bags that we send to our sister organizations in Haiti, Nicaragua, Kenya, and all around the world. That is what first drew me in as a volunteer for a shipment in June and attracted me as an intern for humanitarian campaigns at MADRE this fall – the personal aspect of the organization.
The epitome of this was a recent project when I packed a bag for Sunita – a friend of MADRE – to take with her to the Afghan Midwives Association in Afghanistan. This local organization works with 2,600 midwives helping women have healthy and safe births in often tumultuous circumstances. The Afghan Midwives Association aims to improve maternal health, promote gender equality and empower women in a country where women’s rights are so severely under attack. These incredible midwives unfortunately cannot always acquire necessary resources, so I was glad that MADRE’s donation supply could contribute.
Knowing the donation storage room better than my own apartment, I quickly gathered a variety of prenatal vitamins, OTC pain medications, gauze pads, alcohol pads, syringes, and other supplies that would be beneficial to the midwives. I also packed the bag with diapers, bed liners, and infant bottles. And wonderfully enough, someone had just generously donated a breast pump—an ideal donation for the Afghan Midwives Association!
I remember receiving those exact medical supplies from numerous donors. I remember reading hand-written notes from donors expressing gratitude that their donations could be used by women in need. I remember inventorying each medication and infant bottle. I remember storing and organizing the prenatal vitamins. And now I will remember the culmination of it all: packing the donations to send to the Afghan Midwives Association.
It is a daily reminder that this is exactly why I work with MADRE’s Helping Hands Campaign: the personal involvement in providing humanitarian aid to local women’s organizations doing extraordinary work in under-resourced areas. And it is this personal connection that keeps bringing me back to the donation storage room every week.