calendar April 1, 2015 in Congregations, Faith in action, Global Vision

Transforming a Container into a Clinic

A large, red shipping container sits in the parking lot of the Lutheran Church of God’s Love in Newtown waiting for Saturday mornings. That’s when team members open it up and continue work on its transformation into a medical clinic that will serve a community on the outskirts of Kisumu, Kenya, Africa.

The idea first came about when God’s Love was approached by a church member asking help with donations and supplies for a similar project at the school where he teaches in New Jersey. The project at the school began as a way to help students learn about building codes and construction techniques like framing and wiring. The members of God’s Love, eager to help the project, also began to dream of how this kind of project could bring a community together.

“The feeling of connection we’re trying to foster—not just among people here, but also with the community in Kenya where this is going—is why we’re doing this,” said Susan McDonnell, communications coordinator for the C.A.N. leadership team.

interior wall framingMembers of the church get together every Saturday morning to work on the container. Different teams handle different aspects of the project, which include framing the structure that will hold the walls in place, adding electrical and plumbing systems, furnishing the rooms and filling the cabinets with supplies, and creating art murals for the outside walls. When it is finished there will be four rooms – two for examinations and treatment, an office, and a pharmacy.

Church and community members have donated all the supplies and labor. Early on, the congregation was frustrated by delays around the arrival of the container. They had hoped the container would be donated but ultimately, the congregation decided to purchase a used container for $3,000. Because of the delay in the arrival of the container, the timing of a valuable donation was able to happen when one of the congregation members retired from his medical practice and donated everything from his office.

McDonnell said that one of the best surprises and blessings in all of this is, “You put the word out and never know who’s going to show up with what you need.”

dec 6 can work After the container is finished being outfitted and filled with medical supplies, the congregation will fill the remaining spaces with items requested by the community from a “wish list” which will include items like bicycles and soccer balls. The cost to ship the container empty or full is the same so there won’t be an inch of space wasted.

God’s Love is getting help and advice from two sponsoring organizations: Homes of Living Hope, based in Colorado, whose mission is to work with organizations to convert these containers into usable facilities, and Life in Abundance, an African-based organization that works with the communities in Africa to prepare them to receive the transformed containers.

Susan McDonnell expects that the Container at Newtown (C.A.N.) project will continue through the spring. She said the congregation’s hope is that people who hear about this not only help make their project a success, but also feel inspired to begin similar projects in their communities. The God’s Love website has information about the progress of the project, photographs, links to partnering organizations, and ways to volunteer or donate:

by Katherine Cartwright Knodel