VCU student organization sends aid overseas

Photo by Elizabeth Humphreys.
Photo by Elizabeth Humphreys.

VCU student-run organization, United 2 Heal (U2H), is in the process of gathering and sending medical supplies to Houston, Texas as they rebuild from the September floods.

U2H gathers surplus medical supplies from local Richmond hospitals and sends it to communities in need, often overseas. U2H has sent shipments of supplies to various countries including Lebanon, Syria, Ghana, Nepal, Philippines, Egypt and Bangladesh.

One of their biggest shipments was sent to Turkey last winter when U2H sent a 40-foot container filled with medical supplies and clothing donations worth $100,000.

“We believe that the lack of medical supplies should never restrict someone’s access to proper healthcare,” said Elhaam Jawadi, president of U2H. “Our hope is that by opening chapters in universities across the United States [including the University of Virginia, University of Richmond, and George Mason University], we will create enough collection and redistribution centers to account for excess medical supplies in the country.”

Moustafa Moustafa, a student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, started U2H in 2008.

A friend of Moustafa’s, Mohamed Shaaban, started U2H at VCU in Fall 2011. The organization became an official non-profit in June 2015.

Shaaban died in 2013 due to a sudden health complication. However, according to U2H volunteers, his legacy lives on through his mission to bring medical supplies to countries all around the world.

U2H has various positions on their executive board to increase their level of impact including a local outreach director, warehouse director and an outreach committee. The committee is pivotal to the core function of U2H since they are responsible for connecting to local clinics and hospitals to receive donated medical supplies.

According to warehouse director Zaid Mahdawi, every Friday an estimated 30 volunteers drive to the U2H warehouse on Maury Street where they sort, package and ultimately send out supplies.

“When you’re working with United 2 Heal and you’re working with this incredible group of people, there’s this sense of hope and genuine youthful energy that you can’t find anywhere, “ said Anja Armbruster, a VCU student and U2H volunteer. “We all genuinely believe that what we’re doing is going to save the world.”

U2H has a number of events planned for this semester including a soccer tournament and a destress event before final exams in December where they distribute stress balls, cookies and U2H gear.

“We are currently working on increasing our rate of incoming donated supplies as well as our shipping rates,” Jawadi said. “We appreciate donations of our community members and local businesses as they help us continue to fulfill our mission.”

Zobia Nayyar 

Contributing Writer 

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