Direct Relief's first shipment of medical suppliesÑincluding antibiotics, needles and syringes, and medications for flood-related gastrointestinal diseasesÑwas sent to the Kalinga Hospital Medical Relief Team in Orissa on December 1st. Direct Relief is coordinating its current Indian flood relief efforts through the Orissa Society of America in Chicago. Orissa Society representative Bijoy Misra helped us arrange free cargo space on Air India for the first shipment, and he has just returned from a trip to Orissa to determine what further medical supplies are most needed. Direct Relief will be preparing its next shipments to the region based on his assessments and on specific requests from hospitals in the area.
For decades, Direct Relief has provided the people of India with many millions of dollars worth of aid for victims of poverty, civil strife and natural disasters. We have been cited by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama as one of the most important sources of medical relief for the Tibetan refugees in India since 1959.
Direct Relief is one of a very few humanitarian agencies which are covered by a bilateral Indo-U.S. agreement allowing aid shipments to enter India on a duty-free basis. This allows us to maximize the cost-benefit ratio of our shipments there, freeing us from having to pay customs duties that range as high as 300% of the value of the goods sent.
One of our partner agencies in India is the Diwaliben Mohanlal Mehta Charitable Trust, a humanitarian aid organization founded in 1970 by a wealthy Indian diamond merchant, Shri Mafatlal Mehta. The trust is named in honor of Mehta=D5s mother, a woman of legendary kindness and good works. Direct Relief has just sent the trust ten completely refurbished kidney dialysis machines (plus an extra five for spare parts) to be placed in four hospitals that serve the poor of India. The total value of these machines is approximately $150,000. Along with the dialysis machines, we also included a large number of donated used eyeglasses to be prescription-matched with people who need but cannot afford corrective lenses.