To most, the gently used mattresses, hand-crank metal hospital beds and refurbished stainless steel operating tables stacked in the North Side warehouse of the Brother’s Brother Foundation may not look like much. But to doctors and nurses working in rural clinics in sub-Saharan Africa, the older model beds and tables, long since replaced by electric versions in the U.S., are a God-send—a way to get sick patients up off crowded floors and a sanitary place to perform life-saving surgeries in areas where electrical power is scarce or non-existent.
The beds and tables were loaded Oct. 12 onto a tractor trailer bound for Baltimore, then put on a ship to Europe and finally, on a vessel to Africa—a journey of at least two months and thousands of miles. Ultimately, they will be used in three hospitals in Tanzania: one administered by the Spiritans, one by the Catholic Archdiocese of Arusha and one operated by a Lutheran group.
“This would never have happened without Anne Marie Hansen’s involvement and leadership in Tanzania,” said Dr. Alan R. Miciak, dean of the Palumbo•Donahue School of Business, who was part of a contingent of Duquesne officials who visited Tanzania last year.
This past summer, Hansen, an assistant professor of occupational therapy, and others from her department traveled to Tanzania for a service-learning and research trip. Hansen, who has been researching occupational therapy in Tanzania for much of her career, conducted a medical needs assessment for government, Spiritan and Lutheran-administered hospitals, health centers and clinics across the Arusha region.
“When I returned, I presented the assessment to the Brother’s Brother Foundation, which followed up by securing donations of the items and organizing their transport to Tanzania,” Hansen said.
Operating under the motto “Connecting People’s Resources With People’s Needs,” the Brother’s Brother Foundation works with partners to distribute medicine, supplies and equipment to areas in need around the world.
Nearly 10 percent of Tanzania’s 43 million people have physical disabilities due to disease or birth defects.
Getting medical supplies to developing countries faces many problems, including cost and logistics, said Luke Hingson, Brother’s Brother president.
“We can’t ship the supplies unless we have an identified need and a credible person or organization on the other end to accept and distribute them,” Hingson said. “We were looking to extend our outreach to Africa, and Anne Marie really helped close the loop on all of this.”
Brother’s Brother Foundation has worked with Duquesne for several years on other projects. Duquesne alumnus Joseph Senko serves as the foundation’s board treasurer and convened the first meeting between Duquesne and Brother’s Brother. Liam Carstens, serves as the foundation’s medical coordinator.
“Joe made us aware of Anne Marie’s work, and so the door was opened because of her efforts and the Spiritan presence in Africa,” Hingson said. “The Spiritans are a respected and powerful presence there, and they have the ability to get things done.”