Joan Janzen
for The Clarion

Kindersley residents Ruth and Lloyd Griffith encountered a surprising sight while on vacation in Cuba in 2018.

Ruth corresponds with a close friend who pastors in the city of Bauta in Cuba, who had suggested helping their clinic would be a great project to get involved in. When Ruth and Lloyd travelled to Cuba for a holiday, they stayed with this friend and her husband, in the city of Bauta, located in the Artemisa Province of Cuba, with a population of approximately 45,000.

Ruth Griffith (from Kindersley), Dr. Tania, Pastora Beatriz (both from Cuba) during a visit at the clinic in Cuba.

The medical clinic is just a few blocks from their home. “So when we were there, we were walking past the clinic and so we went in.” Ruth said.

Lloyd began to describe their tour of the facility, where the lighting was outrageous and the building needed painting.

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“They don’t have a hospital; they just have a clinic. We were shocked, to say the least, compared to Canadian standards. We were overwhelmed by what we saw, and by what we didn’t see. It was mind blowing to us! They had no medication, no needles, one stethoscope that four nurses and a doctor would share, no blood pressure pumps. A lot of people in Cuba have asthma issues because of the temperature. They have people sucking oxygen through hoses. They have one hospital gown that everyone gets to wear for examinations and X-rays.”

The couple saw for themselves the depth of the need. “They have definite safety needs. They still use old X-rays that require developing fluid. The lady who does the developing does it in an unventilated room.” Lloyd continued.

“The day we were there, the pastor introduced us to the doctor, who introduced us to the director of the clinic.” Lloyd began to relay a rather amazing chain of events. The director told them to come back the next day and meet the supervisor, which they did. The supervisor arranged for Ruth and Lloyd to meet the leader of the province.

“The next day we took an old bus that took us to a military compound to meet this guy. They escorted us, with security, into the compound. We met with him in a board room. He was happy we had such a desire to help the people and said whatever we could supply, they were willing to accept,” Lloyd said. The man offered to personally supply them with a manifest shipping order, so they would be able to get the supplies through customs.

When Ruth and Lloyd returned home, they began formulating a plan to help out the clinic in Cuba. “We had become aware of so many medical supplies in Canada that have become obsolete that can be used there.” Ruth said. “The biggest thing we’re still looking for is a storage container.”

The couple is storing a substantial amount of donated medical supplies in their garage and home, which they plan to send to Cuba in a sea container. “We’re gathering basic materials from hospitals in the area.” Lloyd said. They’ve accumulated three hospital beds, a fetal monitor, many sheets, blankets and hospital gowns, and would also like to supply paint.”

Along with souvenirs of their holiday, Ruth and Lloyd came back with a burning desire to help meet a desperate need.