On February 3rd, during peace week, a small group of students, teachers, and I boarded a bus after school in the rain and drove to Yonkers to volunteer at the AFYA foundation. I knew we were going to help out with the Syrian refugee crisis, but I had no idea exactly how. When we arrived, an employee told us that every day hundreds of pounds of medical supplies from hospitals around the city go unopened and eventually get wasted. Under health codes, medical instruments that are present during surgery and other procedures that don’t get used must be thrown away after the procedure. These supplies get collected into boxes, then AFYA representatives collect those boxes and repurpose them for less well funded hospitals and Doctors Without Borders in third-world regions that are in need of such supplies. Our job was to sort, label, and package the supplies so they could be sent off to the Middle East and Africa. The materials were packaged into duffel bags to be carried with passengers on planes to the region.
We had a great time frantically running and rummaging through the warehouse and it was surely interesting getting my hands on some weird looking and bad smelling medical equipment. I greatly admire how AFYA puts the phrase “one man’s trash is another’s treasure” into effect and manages to reduce waste in New York and increase medicinal outreach all over the world. This experience inspired me to take more into consideration how fortunate I am to have access to expert medical care and think more about ways in which I can reduce my own waste while helping others.
A month after that event, I teamed up with Middle East Club to run a bake sale to support AFYA and we raised a whopping $400 for the organization!