Couple tees up shipment to new Malawi hospital


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In two months time, Sonia and Merv Michalyshen are travelling to the African nation of Malawi to make dreams come true.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/11/2008 (5120 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In two months time, Sonia and Merv Michalyshen are travelling to the African nation of Malawi to make dreams come true.

They are volunteers with International Hope Canada, a Winnipeg-based volunteer organization that collects and sends redundant but usable medical supplies to developing countries. The retired couple has spent much of 2008 arranging for a 40-foot shipping container full of medical supplies to be shipped to the extremely poor nation. The supplies will be used to help Katete Hospital, a new medical facility that deals with HIV, AIDS-related illnesses and a high infant mortality rate.

Several years ago while volunteering in Malawi, Sonia, a retired nurse, and Merv, a teacher, met Sister Florence Msowoya. Earlier this year, the nun and charge nurse wrote to the couple with a simple plea for help. She’s getting more than she asked for.

The huge shipping container, packed by volunteers and shipped earlier this month, contains more than 1,100 items, including an operating-room table, hospital beds, wheelchairs and more than 800 boxes of medical supplies.

Though International Hope usually partners with other organizations to cover the cost of the supplies they ship, the Michalyshens made Project Malawi their personal mission. Hitting up friends, family members, businesses and fellow parishioners at their church, they raised the $17,000 it cost to send the huge container overseas. In mid-January, Sonia and Merv will travel to Malawi to personally accept delivery of the container and help set up the hospital with its contents.

“It’s just exciting to think that these people are going to open up this container and everything that comes off there, they don’t have,” said Sonia, who helped found International Hope Canada.

The last thing they packed into the container was a huge International Hope Canada sign, Merv said.

“When the doors open, that’s the first thing they’ll see and we’re going to make sure that Sister Florence is going to be the first one,” he said. “I want to see Sister Florence’s face when we open up that container.”

The supplies shipped to Malawi, which were donated by hospitals and medical-care facilities, are outdated in Canada but extremely valuable and much needed in Malawi.

If you know a special volunteer who strives to make their community a better place to live, please contact Erin Madden at

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