“Don’t touch their hands,” the doctors and nurses warned. “You don’t want to get a disease.”
Global humanitarian Shaimaa Al Wassiti squared her shoulders and smoothed her dark hair before the medical staff directed her down the small corridors of the elderly Ecuadorian hospital. As she visited with each patient, her heart ached. She’d come to Ecuador to see for herself how the medical equipment and wound-care dressings donated by her nonprofit organization were helping the people.
As the medical staff introduced her to the patients, Al Wassiti noticed that many of them had skin diseases. Many were missing fingers. One of these patients presented her with some tiny toys.
“For you and your hijos (children), gracias,” he said.
Al Wassiti’s eyes began to swell with tears. “I had to excuse myself and go and cry in the bus for like an hour,” she recalls. “I was very happy, but I also felt so small because before we’d gone to the hospital, I’d whined about being exhausted and that I’d had to take three flights. These men didn’t have all their fingers, and yet they had taken the time to make something so intricate for me and my daughters.”
As soon as she composed herself, Al Wassiti returned to the hospital and threw the medical advisors’ caution aside. “I just started hugging everyone,” she says.
When Al Wassiti returned to the United States, each of her three daughters placed one of the tiny toys on their Christmas tree. Now, they look forward to placing these special toys on the tree each year.
The little toys started another tradition. Every time Al Wassiti visits a country for Globus Relief, she gets a small souvenir. Her office bookshelf is lined with these little mementos including a Russian nesting doll, a tiny wooden shoe from the Netherlands, and a small model of the Colosseum in Rome.
“They remind me of the project and people that we have served. It is so rewarding,” she says.
Al Wassiti was born in Iraq, but as the daughter of an Iraqi general who worked with the United States military, she left the war-torn country when it was believed unsafe for her to stay. She and her U.S. Army husband relocated to Jordan for a few years. She’d lived a luxurious life in the Middle East. She was well off and had an armed escort who went everywhere with her until she attended school in the United Kingdom. Although she lived a privileged life, her parents taught her to love and look after other people. In 2010, Alwassiti and her family moved from Jordan to the U.S.
“When I came here, I wanted a change, to live a simpler life,” she says.
In 2012, she contacted an old friend who worked at Globus Relief. She volunteered, and after doing various things for them for a few weeks, they hired her. After eight years with Globus Relief, she was appointed as the president of the humanitarian division in September 2021.
Improving Healthcare Around the World
According to their website, Globus Relief is a medical resource humanitarian organization that partners with charities, corporations, and governments to improve healthcare across the world.
“I love this work because of the passion and the change that we can bring to someone’s life,” Al Wassiti says. “I whine sometimes because I have long hours. I travel a lot to meet with sponsors and to see the impact that we are having in the world. Sometimes I get emotional because it is hard to see the people and their heartbreaking circumstances, but then little children approach me and they say, ‘Thank you so much. I’m okay,’ and it is worth it.”
One of Al Wassiti’s favorite memories of how Globus has helped children is of a 2-year-old Haitian girl. The girl had digestive and bacteria issues because of poverty. She went to doctor after doctor, but they could not help her with their limited resources. Globus had access to some protein shakes and sent them.
“Eighteen months later, [the doctor] sent me her pictures. She was walking and running,” Al Wassiti recalls. “Then the girl’s mother sent me a voicemail, and someone translated it for me. It was hard to understand because the woman was so emotional. She said, ‘I don’t know what to say, but you saved my girl.’”
Al Wassiti carried the girl’s picture with her for quite some time. “I loved her,” she says. “She was such an adorable child and such motivation to me. She was beautiful and healthy from something so small that we were able to provide.”
Globus can help so much because they have collected surplus medical and pharmaceutical resources in addition to used and barely-damaged medical devices and equipment for many years, says CFO and board member Daniel Henrie, who has been with Globus Relief since 1997.
Over the years, Globus Relief has partnered with hundreds of different charities in more than 140 countries to help people get the healthcare they need.
“We have stable donors who continually donate to us,” Henrie explains. “They like what we do and how we do it. We help donors see how their surplus and recyclable resources can help the world. Why would you throw away something you can use? Why send something to a landfill when it can help someone else?”
Serving Millions of People
When the donations arrive at Globus’s warehouse in Salt Lake City, a team sorts through each box to verify what is inside.
“It is super important because if we send a box that says it is gloves and it is actually gowns, then many times countries will deny the shipment saying that it doesn’t match the paperwork, and then those people are without those supplies,” Al Wassiti explains.
After the donations are sorted, they go to the processing center to be entered into a special database. Once they are in the database, Al Wassiti knows exactly what she has and can build shipping containers for each project, sending surgical, clinical, emergency, IVs, ortho, airway, and personal protection products all over the world.
“Everything that Globus Relief provides overseas or here in the States with our local partners touches thousands of lives a day and millions of people a year. The impact is amazing,” says Al Wassiti. “We help people’s lives. We can help somebody from dying and prevent all these illnesses and suffering. This is what makes us so unique. It is the trigger for me to wake up in the morning and come to work.”
“Service is a symbiotic relationship. When you help others, they usually help you more. We help them with healthcare, but they teach us and remind us of what really matters,” he says.
Henrie has gone with Globus on missions to Romania and Mexico and has seen firsthand the impact on the people they serve. In Mexico, he recalls watching a kid with a stick rolling an old bicycle wheel while running down the road. He and his friends were laughing and having fun.
“I learned so much from him that day. He reminded me of what really matters,” Henrie says.
A Charity for Charities
Helping people around the world has been the focus of Globus Relief, even in the beginning, says Kelly Lee Farmer, a former member of the board of directors.
“My parents, Kelly and Elaine Farmer, started a business that handled recovery supply chain issues (National Product Sales or NPS),” says Farmer. “Part of those issues was market failure. We were getting medical supplies and pharmaceuticals that got lost in the system. At the beginning, we were giving it all to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and doing well. Then we realized that there was a greater need, and we could have a broader reach if we used more charities. We started Globus Relief in an effort to be a charity for charities. That’s what we do.”
Farmer says his father was a “detail man,” and he felt that Globus was his greatest mission (besides being a husband and father). Even though he ran a million-dollar company, he was the type of man who would be out there doing the work with his employees.
“If there were people coming through the warehouse and it wasn’t clean, my father would sweep it. He wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He wore worn-out jeans and a dirty t-shirt, and he drove a beat-up old truck. He wanted to be known for serving others, not for his business,” says Farmer.
Kelly Farmer passed away on February 12, 2021, at 88 years old. While Farmer misses his father, he says one thing his father always said that will stick with him is that “miracles happen every day.”
“I’ve seen so many miracles in my life,” Farmer says.
Back in 2005, NPS had a surplus of food that needed to be thrown away, but they decided to hold on to it for just a few days longer. That same week, Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. They donated nine truckloads of food right away to feed the people there, and they continued to have the resources to do so for two years.
Farmer also feels a miracle happened in the summer of 2020, just after COVID-19 hit.
“There was a real need for PPE (personal protection equipment), and Globus had a lot of it,” Farmer recalls. “We partnered with ADRA, the Seventh Day Adventist group, and we were able to provide this gear to heavily hit areas in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.”
ADRA is just one of the many charities that Globus Relief partners with. They also partner with charities such as Operation Smile, The Salvation Army, Christian Aid Ministries, International Rescue Committee, Free Wheelchair Mission, Mercy Foundation, Nepal Cleft and Burn Center, Baitulmaal, and Human Appeal.
In October 2021, Al Wassiti worked with many charity partners in the Middle East to send 22 containers with 440 pallets of items to Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine. The supplies serviced 5 cities with 20 hospitals and dozens more free clinics to help serve the poor people and refugees from Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Somalia.
“It was so exciting! I was so happy,” she recalls. “It got cleared because The Royal Palace in Jordan got involved. It is so touching. It stays with me.”
At the end of October, Al Wassiti flew to Jordan to meet with The Royal Palace and to see the impact of the shipment sent to serve millions of people in need.
Inviting Others to Come to the Table
Al Wassiti is excited for the future of Globus Relief and has created a new strategic plan. She wants Globus to be able to see a health crisis in a country, fund the project, then gather and unite other charities to “come to the table and help.”
“I am a believer that the more you can bring to the table, the bigger the impact will be. The need is everywhere,” she says. “We have a variety of partner groups in over 140 countries and add new ones every year. Some of the countries are just very hard to get into, so it can be challenging (especially with the shipping troubles due to COVID-19), but as we unite these partner groups, each one of them can supply us with a different type of service, and then we can supply a developed humanitarian program to respond to the health crisis of the world. I think it will be a great new way of doing things.”
To learn more, donate, or volunteer, visit globusrelief.org.
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