Robin Hood of Global Health: AFYA Foundation

recycle-29227_1280Have you ever wondered what happens to usable but discarded hospital supplies? Are they used? Are they thrown away?

Danielle Butin has provided an environmentally responsible solution to address the huge shortage of healthcare supplies to underserved communities around the world. She is the Founder and Executive Director of the AFYA Foundation, a medical supply recovery organization in New York. The New York State Senate has recognized her as a Woman of Distinction for her role in promoting global health.

It was a trip to Tanzania that changed the course of Ms. Butin’s life. While talking to doctors on medical missions, she realized how challenging it was for them to do their work due to the lack of basic medical supplies. In association with Dr. Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health, she began to collect and store items in her garage!

Afya means “health” in Kiswahili (spoken in Eastern and Central Africa). They collect medical surplus supplies from hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and individuals in the United States (each year, American hospitals discard 7,000 tons of usable medical supplies). They sort and ship supplies to 56 countries, primarily to their partners in African and Caribbean countries.

In 2010, Ms. Butin was honored for AFYA’s work in Haiti following the devastating earthquake. She trained local Haitians for the rehabilitation work and developed a “tented” home care rehabilitation program for the disabled. The program is thriving at the medical clinic created by Sean Penn’s organization, Cite de Soleil, Zoranje, and the Partners In Health Orphanage for disabled children.

Danielle Butin speaks at schools, colleges and hospitals to encourage youth to volunteer, engage with issues close to their hearts and believe in the power of one person to bring about change.

Some of the core AFYA programs:

Deliver a Baby Today — A campaign to deliver 10,000 birth kits to Ghana by Mothers Day 2015. Donate to make a difference between life and death for an expectant mother and her newborn baby. Join the conversation: #deliverababytoday

Custom Containers: Supplies for Life — Matching donors of supplies and equipment with wish lists from recipient hospitals and clinics to create.

Luggage for Life — Whether you are traveling with a group to volunteer in a remote location, studying abroad, or traveling with friends and family, there is an easy way to give back to the community you are visiting and to deliver supplies that promote good health.

Haiti Rehab Project — Home care and local access to rehab medicine involves training Haitians to become Rehab Techs or Adaptive Builders.

Disaster Relief — Responding to disaster, be it an earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, or epidemic, AFYA is instrumental in the recovery of communities all over world.

For more information:

The Power (and Heartbreak) of Being Called to Serve: Danielle Butin 

Salvaged US medical supplies help fight Ebola in Africa

Students and Ebola: Fear, Hope and Helping

Aparna Datey is fascinated with well designed everyday objects (such as spoons and door handles) and textures (such as hand woven textiles and ceramics). She has a Masters in Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree in Architecture from India. Currently she is an Academic Advisor at the Center for International Education at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She enjoys hiking, knitting, making fused glass jewelry, and cooking. She loves to travel with her family, and on a recent visit to India, was lucky enough to see a tiger in the wild!

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