Soaring temperatures in the Twin Cities yesterday failed to deter the enthusiasm of a dedicated group from HealthPartners who joined the MATTER team in our sweltering warehouse to load a 40-foot container of medical equipment bound for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

HealthPartners, one of our largest hospital partners, typically partners for health with MATTER by donating equipment and supplies. This was the first time they helped load a container and only the second time a hospital partner has been part of the loading process.

Karen Knutson, Director of Purchasing for HealthPartners, explained why the Purchasing Department chose this volunteer experience.

“You guys provide a great opportunity for organizations like us to do meaningful team building activities. To have a part in this process of improving healthcare in Congo is just tremendous. What we’re doing here today really matters.”

Once considered one of the most developed African countries in terms of healthcare, three decades of political and economic turmoil have left the DRC one of the poorest countries in the world with one of the most dilapidated healthcare systems. According to USAID, an estimated 70 percent of the population have little or no access to health care. The few hospitals and clinics available are poorly equipped with both equipment and personnel. The situation for the Congolese people is dire.

Bismack Biyombo greeting a child at a hospital in Kinshasa, MATTER’s first hospital renovation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Enter Bismack Biyombo of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. Bismack grew up in the copper mining town of Lubumbashi, in southeastern Congo. He left his family and all he knew at the tender age of 16 to pursue a career in basketball, a career that in less than a decade has exceeded even his wildest dreams. Though Bismack now lives the life of an NBA star in America, his heart remains firmly in Congo. Believing a bright future lies ahead for his home country, he dedicates his efforts to make that bright future a reality.

MATTER is honored to partner with the Bismack Biyombo Foundation to help improve healthcare for the Congolese people by equipping hospitals in the country with supplies they so desperately need. Having already procured equipment for a hospital in the capital city of Kinshasa, this was the second container bound for a hospital in Bismack’s hometown of Lubumbashi.

Among the items loaded were dozens of much-needed hospital beds with mattresses. That such basic medical equipment is woefully absent in hospitals and clinics throughout the DNC demonstrates just how desperate the situation is there. Providing these necessities, as well as wheelchairs, crutches, and exam tables, will powerfully transform the healthcare experience for the people of Lubumbashi, affording them the dignity and comfort they deserve.

It’s because of dedicated hospital partners like HealthPartners that life-saving projects like this are possible. From donating equipment and supplies to helping us load shipping containers, our hospital partners are an invaluable part of #MATTERnation as partners for health!

If your company or department would like to have a meaningful volunteer experience helping load one of our medical containers, please contact MATTER’s Medical Program Director, Joel Anderson at 952-500-8652.