Shipping and travel restrictions in combination with short term leaves have led to donations of healthcare material getting stuck in Sweden. In order to continue to donate, Region Västra Götaland has found new ways to reach aid recipients in other other countries.
This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has had serious financial consequences for many aid organizations, such as Human Bridge, Region Västra Götaland’s main partner for international aid.
“We have informed our partners and recipients in the field that we will be forced to pause our aid shipments indefinitely,” Human Bridge announced in May. All development assistance staff there are currently on short-term leave for the rest of the year.
Had to rethink
By then, Sahlgrenska International Care had already understood that the sharp freight and travel restrictions would make it impossible to continue as usual.
– When the whole world is turned up side down, aid is also affected. An expected consequence is that countries look more inwards. Some materials have been temporarily needed to strengthen domestic healthcare. Like so many other industries, we had to rethink, says Anders Lygdman, head of international aid assistance at Sahlgrenska International Care.
Some departments in Region Västra Götaland had already begun to notice that donations had not been picked up. Sahlgrenska International Care quickly informed them about how donations would be handled during the pandemic.
– Today, all departments in the region that want to donate are asked to contact me who will contact our partners. That way I can find the best available solution at that given time. It is ultimately my responsibility to ensure that our donations do not stand and dust here, when it can be useful elsewhere. But we must not compromise on quality.
It soon became clear that the other partner Agape Foundation could expand its dontation pick ups. Finding other partners quickly who can complement existing ones is difficult, partners must be quality assured and agreements signed. Suddenly it has proved possible.
New ways of working
– To be open to new ways of working, is what I believe united all of us who in different ways have worked in the middle of this Covid-19 pandemic. We recently signed a time-limited agreement with Hope in Action, a Swedish organization originating in Herrljunga that is present in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Donated medical textiles from Alingsås laundry will for the most part be used at Kyeshero Hospital in Goma in the North Kivu region.
– I know that the pandemic is far from over, but I want to believe that when come out on the other side, we will be able to say that we did the best we could. We did not lose sight of the recipients in other countries, even though it has sometimes been a more bumpy road to reach them, says Anders Lygdman.
Published in VGRfokus.