GYUMRI–Cindy Basso Eaton is a long way from the manicured lawns of her childhood town of Stockton as she surveys the "houses" that stretch along the streets of Gyumri–the second largest city in Armenia. She shakes her head in disbelief–shocked that nearly two decades after one of the world’s most devastating earthquakes rocked this region to the ground–nearly 15,000 residents still call makeshift metal "sea container" like shelters home.
As the president of Global Healing–this scene only serves to give her more incentive to pursue the California-based–non-profit organization’s latest endeavor.
This year–Global Healing will embark on its 6th healthcare project (Global Healing has four completed medical projects in Tbilisi–Georgia and a current medical project in Roatan–Honduras). With the blessings of the Ministry of Health of Armenia–Global Healing will construct and oversee until self-sufficiency–Armenia’s first-ever blood banking facility operating at international standards.
"Global Healing is a lifeline to those communities whose petitions for help have fallen through the cracks of poverty–civil unrest or environmental upheaval," Basso Eaton explained. "We zero in on a need–and supply the fix. You won’t find us sitting in a boardroom–we have none. Our offices are our computers–phones–cars–kitchens," she explained." We are a small group of hardworking volunteers dedicated to bringing modern healthcare to developing countries. We never say never."
The Armenia project is an example of that attitude.
Although "blood stations" exist in Armenia–Basso Eaton explained these centers lack national or international guidelines for operation and safety. A large portion of the blood transfused in the regions of Armenia is untested or not tested properly and risks contamination with infectious diseases such as HIV–Hepatitis B and C and syphilis. In addition–there is no system in place for transporting blood products throughout the region. This was a scenario Global Healing could not ignore.
"When completed–the Gyumri facility will have the technology and functioning equipment to test all donor blood for infectious disease as well as accurately type–process–store and cross match blood prior to transfusion," she explained. "We feel the people in the Shirak region deserve no less than this," she continued. The Gyumri blood bank will be modeled after Global Healing’s Tbilisi–Georgia blood bank facility and will include extensive training of Armenian staff by foreign medical and administrative teams.
Basso Eaton’s pleas for help have been successful. "With just $7,000 in donations we have done amazing things to realize the launch of this important project," she said.
In June–The United Armenian Fund in Los Angeles helped send a container of equipment and supplies to the proposed site in Gyumri. The equipment and supplies were donated by Baxter–Northern California. In addition–Helmer Laboratories donated two vital temperature controlled blood bank refrigeration units as well as a platelet incubator and agitator. Global Healing received confirmation that Doctors Without Borders will supply the blood bank with infectious disease kits and the Armenia Aids Program will supply equipment for testing HIV as well as HIV test kits through the Global Fund project. In addition–Becton Dickinson has donated over one years worth of blood bank supplies. Major monetary donors to date have been Alice Runge–Frank and Irene Garavano–Andy and Nora Armenian–Stan Shore and two anonymous donors.
"Now we are looking for the angel–that special person or corporation who can step in and give us the financial power to complete this promise in Armenia," Basso Eaton explained.
To fully begin and complete the blood bank–Global Healing needs to raise $150,000. $30,000 will be used in the renovation of the existing site. $60,000 will be used to procure the necessary equipment and supplies not donated. $60,000 will be used to cover the expense of sending foreign medical and educator teams to Armenia to train locals. It will also be used to implement a media campaign in Armenia to educate the public on the merits of a "voluntary" blood donation system as opposed to the existing "paid" programs.
100-percent of contributions will be used for the Armenia Project. Global Healing is a US non-profit 501 (c) (3) and soon to be a UK registered charity. Please send contributions to Global Healing–PO Box 2166 Orinda–CA 94563. Please visit the website at www.globalhealing.org.