Some might think that taking medical supplies from London to the tiny island of Bequia would be somewhat of a difficulty. In fact, it was seriously simple and encouragingly straightforward. Bequia, part of the St Vincent and the Grenadines archipelago, is in desperate need of medical equipment. Having tried and tested the task myself I would encourage anyone, whether you’re visiting for business or pleasure, to take an extra bag of much-needed medical equipment as it will be more than well received by the local community.
I had heard about ‘Not Just Tourists’ (NJT) from friends in Bequia. The organisation originated in Canada, but within the last year or so they have opened a branch in the UK. I urge everyone to take look at their website www.notjusttourists.com – I love their strap line ‘Take a suitcase, change a life’. They even supply the suitcases and the medical equipment, so it couldn’t be any easier to do a seriously good deed. Their UK email address is email@example.com so drop them a line if you’ve got any questions or want to help.
I did, and it was very simple. I was met by two representatives of NJT, Annie and Clemance, at Victoria station, London. The medical equipment included bandages, swabs, syringes, surgical gloves and so forth – NO medicines were packed in to the suitcases. Annie and Clemance stressed to me that I had to unpack and re-pack the suitcases in front of them to ensure that I knew what I was carrying and that I was happy with the contents. Weatherspoon’s was probably not the most private of places to carry out this task but hey ho, needs must! Contents checked and repacked, my son and I took the suitcases home.
I flew Virgin from London to St Lucia and the bags were within my allowance. I still had to make a declaration that I packed the bags myself and that I did not have any dangerous items in them. I told them what I was carrying and it wasn’t a problem.
From St Lucia, I flew in an eight-seater SVG Air puddle hopper to Bequia, less than 40 minutes’ flight. On this trip, I cleared SVG customs and immigration in St Lucia, but it’s usually at Bequia’s tiny J.F. Mitchell Airport. My normal baggage allowance would have been exceeded, however SVG Air waived any charges because of what I was carrying. My smooth entry into Bequia was ensured by Dave Neely and John Barnard, two gentlemen who work tirelessly for Friends of Bequia Hospital. Check out the FoBH Facebook page for more information.
In summary, the pick-up and delivery of the medical items went very smoothly and I can honestly say it was done with minimum effort on my part. Bequia Hospital now have much-needed equipment, but they are consumables and will need replenishing. I will be doing this again and I would urge other travellers to ‘Take a suitcase, change a life’ – it’s easy and could save someone’s life.
The community couldn’t have been more grateful – check out some of the comments we received on Facebook…