KENT COUNTY, Michigan – A West Michigan nonprofit is converting an old bus into a mobile medical unit.
“This bus is going to be used to help treat people where they are,” said Erika Plunkett, CEO of AMA without borders.
This week, Plunkett will depart in the Great Green Machine, which was donated by a group of pastors, in Zapopan, Mexico.
Zapopan is one of the Grand Rapids’ five sister cities.
Eventually, Plunkett will join a team of around 30 healthcare professionals, including local nurses, who will provide off-bus care to residents of Zapopan this summer.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Plunkett said. “It’s the Silicon Valley of Mexico, so there are so many opportunities. There’s just this huge gulf between the people who have them and the rest.
According to Plunkett, more than 300,000 people in Zapopan live in extreme poverty. Existing inequalities, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, mean that many wait, on average, three months to receive basic care.
“There is so much delay for people to be treated,” Plunkett said. “In fact, one of the kids we work with passed away not too long ago for something very, very small. It was an infection that was treatable.
Plunkett estimates that WADA can help hundreds of people every month with the bus. Over the next two years, the organization plans to renovate it further between trips to meet more complex needs, such as performing lab tests.
“Our goal is to be able to lift people out of poverty,” Plunkett said. “These basic needs are so fundamentally important that someone can actually learn and grow. If you don’t meet these basic human needs, you won’t be able to invest. “
Additional supplies, such as multivitamins, bandages and feminine hygiene products, are needed before WADA leaves on Friday. Gas cards and cash donations are also accepted.
A “Bless the Bus” event will take place from 4 pm to 7 pm on Tuesday May 25th at 953 Spencer St NE to drop off items.
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