These Volunteers are Joining Forces to Give Kids a Chance at a New Life

Meet Abuzer. A sweet and happy little boy, Abuzer was born with a cleft lip. Living in Ethiopia where healthcare is sparse and medical conditions that require surgery often go untreated, Abuzer was facing a life filled with problems feeding and speaking, chronic ear infections, and possible hearing loss. Even worse, his birth defect would likely make him a social outcast, forcing him to live in the shadows of his community.

But all that changed for Abuzer when Children’s Surgery International (CSI) came into his life.

CSI is an amazing all-volunteer, non-profit organization based in Minnesota, that conducts surgical trips to locations around the world, providing life-changing surgeries, in-country education and medical supplies for children, their families and medical professionals.

It was on one of their trips to Ethiopia that they met little Abuzar. He and his mother arrived at the clinic tired and dirty after an arduous two-day journey by bus and on foot. Having missed their original appointment, Abuzer’s mother was determined that her son was going to have the surgery he so desperately needed. After waiting at the clinic for three days, Abuzer finally had the first of two surgeries he needed to repair his lip. Returning home after the first surgery, Abuzer’s mother was filled with hope. Thanks to a volunteer surgeon from the other side of the world, her little boy had been given the gift of a new life.

Abuzer’s story is not unique. Sadly, far too many children around the world suffer needlessly because their communities lack basic healthcare resources. That’s why CSI exists and why its work is so important. It’s also why a group of volunteers from Lube-Tech recently joined with volunteers from CSI to sort medical supplies that had been donated to MATTER by our generous hospital partners in the Midwest. Sorting through jumbled boxes filled with gloves, sutures, PPE, syringes, catheters and other essential supplies, the volunteers built six towering pallets of supplies, valued at $30,000, for CSI’s clinic and hospital partners on the ground. For an all-volunteer organization such as CSI, donated supplies are a game-changer. Megan Sparks, Executive Director, explains,

“Our vision is a world where healthcare workers have access to the tools they need to meet the care needs in their community. When we can provide our partners on the ground with donated supplies through partners like MATTER, it frees up some of our funds to address other critical needs our partners have like advanced medical education. At the end of the day, the support we get from MATTER allows us to stretch our donor dollars that much further to make a bigger impact in communities.”

Hosting the medical supply sort was MATTER partner, Lube-Tech. A leading manufacturer of lubricants, fluids and chemicals for a wide range of fleet vehicles and equipment, Lube-Tech is committed to giving back to the communities in which they work. Guided by their motto, “Make Tomorrow a Little Better than Today”, Lube-Tech has created a corporate culture dedicated to enhancing the lives of others and making a positive impact every day through contributions and volunteer efforts.

For the last several years, Lube-Tech has helped MATTER by picking up medical donations from UnityPoint Health in Iowa and hauling them to MATTER’s warehouse in Minnesota. Lube-Tech has also been a great partner to CSI for many years, supporting the organization financially and even sending one of its employees on a CSI trip as a Lube-Tech representative.

Despite the soaring temperature in the warehouse, the energy level and enthusiasm from the volunteers never waned. Jon Oiseth, Sales Manager with Lube-Tech Custom Brands shared why he participated. “It’s what we do! And it’s been a while since we’ve been able to gather shoulder to shoulder in-person to focus on a common challenge. Under the guidance of our partners from CSI and MATTER, we made easy work of sorting the supplies and repalletizing everything. Not even the mid-90’s temperatures could defeat us!”

It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child. For Abuzer, and the many other children like him around the world, it takes a global village to give them the chance at a better life. MATTER is honored to support the life-changing work of CSI, and we are grateful to partners like Lube-Tech and UnityPoint Health who make our support of CSI possible. You all matter.