Project Handclasp donates hospital supplies to local Sao Tome hospital

SAO TOME, Sao Tome and Principe (STP) — Africa Partnership Station (APS) Sailors move hospital beds from a Landing Craft Utility (LCU) to a local hospital Jan. 22. At the request of the President and the Government of STP, APS was able to work with Project Handclasp to get almost $100,000 of medical equipment donated for the Sao Tome General Hospital. APS Sailors unloaded almost fifty pallets of hospital beds, furniture and medical supplies. Soldiers from the STP military assisted in transporting the donated goods to the hospital and with the set-up of the new equipment. (Department of Defense photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class RJ Stratchko)

SAO TOME, Sao Tome and Principe (STP) — Sailors from African Partnership Station (APS) and Sao Tomeian military personnel, delivered over 82 hospital beds and essential hospital equipment to Sao Tome General Hospital on behalf of Project Handclasp. Project Handclasp receives, collects, consolidates and stores humanitarian, educational, and goodwill material for transportation on naval vessels, which are then distributed by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel on behalf of American citizens to needy people overseas.

The medical supplies delivered to Sao Tome General Hospital consisted of hospital beds and mattresses, hospital grade infant cribs, medical carts, x-ray view boxes, walkers, and other essential hospital furniture valued in excess of $100,000.00.

The Honorable Eunice S. Reddick, U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe and the Gabonese Republic, arrived here Jan. 23 and met with the Minister of Health in a recognition ceremony held at the hospital to commemorate the donation of goods and pledge the ongoing support between the hospital and the citizens of the United States.

"I am proud that APS is able to make this needed donation. I am especially proud that through the generosity of the donors to Project Handclasp we were able to respond to a direct request from the Sao Tome and Principe government and provide this medical equipment," said Navy Capt. John Nowell, Commander, Africa Partnership Station. "Along with building Maritime Safety and Security, APS continues to build international partnership and good will through these types of humanitarian assistance missions."

"The relationship and interaction that this donation fosters is important to the growing U.S.-STP civil-military relationship. The leadership of STP identified a need, we went to Project Handclasp to source it and now we are delivering medical supplies and equipment to people who need it," said Navy Lt. Chris Servello, APS Maritime Civil Affairs Team Leader, Maritime Civil Affairs Squadron 2. "APS crew members are carrying out the Maritime Strategy and making people's lives better in the process."

To help facilitate the delivery, 30 Sailors from USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) helped out with the delivery, assembly and cleaning of all donated equipment.

"Our sailors were amazed at how much of a difference it would make to bring this equipment for the patients here. Many of the Sailors said it was the highlight of their deployment to be able to help someone else and make a difference," said Navy Lt. Paul Wigginton, Fort McHenry Chaplain.

This is an ongoing relationship with the hospital as in March during the USS Kauffman visit to Sao Tome, Navy Capt. John Nowell participated in a ceremony with Sao Tome and Principe President Faderique de Menezes that marked the official turnover of a $500,000 hospital renovation paid with U.S. European Command humanitarian assistance funds. This renovation included new air conditioning and water pump systems, as well as improvements to the inpatient wards, emergency room and urgent care facility. This has been an ongoing partnership that will continue to thrive over the next few years.

Delivery and transportation of medical equipment was made possible through the efforts of African Partnership Station. APS is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe-led initiative, executed by a multi-national staff aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry and High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2). Commander Task Group 60.4 and training teams from various U.S. and European military commands, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations are embarked on board Fort McHenry to enhance cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services in West and Central Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.

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