WACO, Texas (KWTX) Hospital patients some 8,000 miles away will have heavy duty hospital beds to use thanks in part to a national nonprofit, a Waco hospital, a local church and the heavy lifting of some area high school varsity football players.
First Methodist Church in Waco has been helping the nonprofit Rwanda Shines, first with a school and now with construction of a new hospital, which will be filled with 400 beds worth about $700,000 donated by Ascension Providence Health Center in Waco, which recently purchased new beds.
“I thought it was a great opportunity. Generally those beds would have been discarded so to show that there are needs around the world where we can take beds that we consider older technology and put them to work in a country desperate for health care,” Ascension President Phillip Patterson said.
The church’s pastor, Ryan Barnett, has visited Rwanda on a number of occasions and briefly lived there, too.
He said the country in Central Africa is in dire need of medical help with only 800 doctors for the 12 million people living there.
“These hospital beds are a good window into health care in Rwanda. Most people want a private room when they go to the hospital, in Rwanda we have seen two and three people sharing a single bed in a hospital,” Barnett said.
“So the opportunity to upgrade that for them and provide them with the dignity of care is really important.”
Loading up the beds, however, proved to be no easy task because each one weighs about 400 pounds.
When the Midway football team heard of the need, players immediately rolled up their sleeves to help with the assistance from head coach Jeff Hulme and freshman coach Mark Villarreal.
“We thought we were just going to be there for two hours but it turned out we were there from 10:30 to 4. But but the guys were great and they didn't mind helping,” Villarreal said.
“They volunteered, loaded up the beds and got a little hot and sweaty.”
The group included junior offensive lineman Miguel Convento who said it took four teammates just to lift one bed.
“It was a great opportunity to help others in need and just knowing that those would go to a great cause is just a great thing,” Convento said.
The feeling was echoed by junior running back Jaden Johnson.
“It was good to help out and to be able to help out people that are not in the community and just do our part,” Johnson said.
Barnett said he couldn’t be more thankful for the team’s efforts.
“They were some of the biggest boys I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said.
“Where it would take five us to lift one bed, these guy almost on their own could lift bed after bed. They worked so hard and relentlessly to do this good work and we were so proud and so thankful to have them.”
The beds departed Central Texas on June 28 and arrived in Virginia at another nonprofit from where, in an effort to be cost efficient, they will be shipped to Rwanda, which could take months.