The Guyana Medical Relief organisation is committed to giving back

By Mercilin M Burke –  

Photo: Sharir Chan handing over boxes of TOMS shoes to an official for Regions Seven and Eight

CHIEF Operating Officer (COO) of the Guyana Medical Relief (GMR), Sharir Chan, in an exclusive interview with the Pepperpot Magazine said that the major aim for establishing the GMR was to focus on the health and wellness of Guyanese, doing everything possible to improve their lives in every possible area.       

Photo: Eula Kennard Menzies, Co-founder of GMR, along with Sharir Chan, Chief Operations Officer, GMR, posing in front of TOMS Flagship store in Venice, California.

Chan, who has been residing in the United States of America for over 35 years, has also been involved in the GMR for over 20 years. He just recently left Guyana after coming here to carry out a number of activities on behalf of the organisation.

“The GMR is an organisation that is based in Los Angeles and one of the co-founders is Eula Kennard-Menzies from Corentyne, Berbice. At 90 years Eula is still going strong and she has never given up on Guyana, ever since 1984,” he said. “We are a bunch of dedicated Guyanese who really and truly believe in helping the country, and all of us are very grateful for where life has taken us and all of us are giving back.”

He went on to say that he is personally grateful and comes to Guyana a lot, and has been operating the GMR here, mostly as an “on the ground” personnel, helping to support his colleagues in the programme to give relief in whatever form possible.

INITIAL PLAN
The organisation was formed by a small group of concerned Guyanese in Los Angeles, California, as a California Public Benefit Non-Profit Corporation in 1984, initially to raise funds to sponsor shipments of urgently-needed medical supplies and equipment to two hospitals in Guyana.

Some of the patients in the Pomeroon

 

However, since the organisation was too small to meet its primary objectives effectively, it partnered with a larger Non-Profit, Direct Relief of Santa Barbara. Direct Relief (DR) obtains medical supplies and equipment and ships them all over the world.

Some of the public hospitals that received supported were the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC); New Amsterdam, Port Mourant, Mahaicony, Bartica, Suddie, as well as the Linden hospitals.

Chan noted that in addition to these major medical institutions, the hospital at Charity is supported with shipments sent to Suddie. Additionally, the hospitals at Wismar and Kwakwani are serviced through the Linden hospital. Furthermore, the missions along the Abary River are serviced by the Mahaicony Hospital.

Private hospitals have also been receiving help from the GMR and so far both the St. Joseph’s Mercy and Davis Memorial hospitals in Georgetown have received assistance.
He said, however, that even as the years of the organisations continue to pass, based on experience and the needs that are being observed across the country, the GMR continues to look at more and more areas of assisting Guyanese – other than in the form of medical relief.

THE NEED TO HELP
The GMR, according to Chan, continues to feel the need to give as much assistance to Guyana and will stop at nothing to do so. He stated, “Guyana is still developing, even though the country has a lot of resources that must be stretched among many competing needs and this is where GMR comes in,” he said.

Happy children of the Calcutta Mahaicony reacting to the TOMS shoe activity

He explained that his role, as the operating officer, is basically to help in the administration of the GMR, mainly by coordinating a lot of the activities here in Guyana, especially from the position as part of the board of directors and operating committee, which oversees the overall operation of the organisation. These people are all volunteers with a love of this country, Guyana”, he stated.

As volunteers, the board meets regularly to discuss, plan and implement programmes for their annual activities and more than 90 per cent of the funds raised by the organisation is used to ship items to Guyana.

GMR CONTINUED SERVICE
The GMR continues to access many additional interior locations and to this end has sent a mobile ultrasound to the Region One community of Baramita. This ultrasound is being used throughout Region One. They have also donated another ultrasound machine to the Mahaicony Hospital. This is to assist patients who otherwise would have to wait for hours at the main Georgetown Hospital;
Additionally, from 2017 the GMR has started shipping thousands of pairs of TOMS shoes to children in Guyana, which they combine with their medical outreaches.

The Canada-Guyana Outreach Mission (CanGo) is also now a partner of the GMR. This was another initiative by the latter organisation in an effort to ensure that medical relief was received by thousands of Amerindians in the Regions One and Two areas of Guyana.
Over 24 Canadian and American medical personnel CanGo) came to Guyana and provided medical support to people in the Pomeroon. The GMR had provided housing for the CanGo team by rehabilitating a building in the area. GMR is of the belief, that such a cost-saving move through providing a permanent residence, will enhance the mission of the CanGo team’to provide much-needed services

CERVICAL CANCER
According to Chan, cervical cancer in Guyanese women is a very disturbing situation and says that he is convinced that with the help of pap smear, as well as the HPV injection, cervical cancer would be much reduced in the country. He said that assistance should also come from religious leaders, who may be able to convince both parents and their girl children that the injection is not bad and will help curb this dreaded medical problem.

Pomeroon Outreach in July 2018. Sharir Chan (r), along with the team of medical personnel

To this end, he said that the GMR has also partnered with the Guyana Cancer Foundation to provide pap smears to women in the rural areas. For 2017 GMR sponsored approximately 200 pap smears to women in Linden, Pomeroon, Mahaicony, Berbice and Bartica.

The GMR has been reaching out to the Dr. Cort’s Mission in the Corentyne, Berbice. In this regard, the mission has been provided with medication, as well as a monetary grant to assist the people in that area. There is also an annual mission, which includes doctors and nurses, mainly of Guyanese extract who visit Guyana to provide medical services to the people of this area.

 

OUR MISSION IS OUR FOCUS
The mission of the GMR is to continue to focus on the poor and needy in Guyana, especially women and children and to respond as the need arise, even as we deal directly with the Ministry of Health and hospitals, Chan posited.
mercilinburke2017@gmail.com)

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