– 1997 –
As its country began to open its doors to the world, the Chinese government launched a five-year “Poverty Alleviation Campaign,” a program to stimulate economic growth and eliminate human suffering in west and southwest China. Heart to Heart International believed the time was ideal for a medical airlift as an expression of friendship to the people of China and the Chinese government embraced the relief effort. This shipment was the first shipment by a nonprofit organization that the Chinese government allowed in.
In April of 1997, the Goodwill Medical Airlift to the People’s Republic of China landed with 36 tons of medicines and supplies worth $6.2 million in U.S. wholesale value throughout the Sichuan Province in southwest China. Many people in this area subsist on less than $60 (U.S. equivalent) per year and face shortages of food and basic supplies such as medicines. Dr. Gary Morsch said the whole operation was a success because of the coordinated efforts between Heart to Heart International, its donors and the Chinese government.
A volunteer delegation of more than 40 people joined Heart to Heart International to oversee and aid in the distribution of medicines and provide continuing medical education for Chinese physicians and nurses. The delegation worked side-by-side with hospital employees to unload cargo at four of the recipient sites.
With this airlift, Heart to Heart International surpassed the $100 million mark in delivering medicines worldwide in just five short years!