KENT COUNTY, Mich. — A West Michigan nonprofit organization is converting an old bus into a mobile medical unit.
“This bus is going to be used to help treat people where they’re at,” said Erika Plunkett, executive director of AMA Without Borders.
This week, Plunkett will drive off in the big, green machine, which was donated by a group of pastors, to Zapopan, Mexico.
Zapopan is one of Grand Rapids’ five sister cities.
Eventually, Plunkett will join a team of roughly 30 medical professionals, which include some local nurses, who will provide treatment out of the bus to Zapopan residents this summer.
“It’s a beautiful place,” said Plunkett. “It’s the Silicon Valley of Mexico, so there’s so much opportunity. There’s just this huge chasm between people who have and people who don’t.”
According to Plunkett, more than 300,000 people in Zapopan live in extreme poverty. Existing inequalities, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, mean many wait, on average, three months to receive basic care.
“There’s such a back log for people to get treated,” said Plunkett. “We actually had one of the children that we work with pass away not that long ago over something very, very small. It was an infection that was treatable.”
Plunkett estimates AMA can help hundreds of people each month with the bus. Over the next two years, the organization plans to further renovate it between trips so more complex needs, like running lab tests, can be met.
“Our goal is to be able to elevate people out of poverty,” said Plunkett. “Those basic needs are so fundamentally important for someone to be able to actually learn and grow. If you don’t address these basic human needs, then you’re not able to invest.”
Additional supplies, like multivitamins, bandages, and feminine hygiene products, are needed before AMA leaves on Friday. Gas cards and cash donations are also accepted.
A “Bless the Bus” event will be held from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25 at 953 Spencer St NE to drop off items.
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