9th July 2017 (Uploaded 3rd August 2017)
Dear friends and supporters,
HHI have been sending containers to Zambia each 18 months or so since 2004. These have been filled, predominantly, with items donated by people and organisations like yourselves, or those you represent.
We have no substantial storage space of our own as we operate from a small office with the blessing and support of Stow Park Church Centre. We have recently relied on Johnsey Estates, Mamhilad, to provide a large storage area where we can store, sort and pack our items prior to despatch. This they have done free of charge for which we thank them.
In September 2016 we were asked to vacate our current area and relocate onto the first floor in another building on their estate at Mamhilad. This was a far from ideal location but we were in no position to complain as that was the only space available. The only access for our items was via a very old goods lift.
In December 2016 this lift became unusable and we were informed in January 2017 that the cost of repair was prohibitively high. Our stored items, therefore, were therefore effectively stuck on the first floor. We were also informed by Johnsey Estates that they had no other place they could offer us, so our relationship with them would end.
Also using the first floor was a very large storage firm, LeBowke Logistics. They had created a hole in the floor which allowed them, using very high reach fork lift trucks, to move their stored items to and from the ground floor. I made contact with them, explained our problem, and they very kindly offered to move our items to the ground floor when we were ready to ship them. However, to achieve this they required us to put everything on pallets and cling film wrap each pallet. This was not an easy task as we didn’t have regular sized boxes and had many difficult to pack items like wheelchairs, zimmers, arm crutches, and hospital beds, to mention just a few. We finally ended up with over 100 pallets!
When we eventually sent the container in June 2017 all the pallets had to be brought down, the individual items/boxes removed, and then loaded on to the container. This was not an easy task and took over 6 hours of very hard and tiring work by our few volunteers.
We have therefore decided not to continue sending containers to Zambia. This decision has been influenced by:
* The less than desirable current storage and handling problems.
* The lack of persons young enough, fit enough and with the time to collect items, take them to Mamhilad, pack them onto pallets, and eventually load the container.
* A review of whether the £8000+ cost of sending a container could be better employed elsewhere.
We wish to record our thanks to you, and all our other donors, who over the years have responded to our requests and hope you can find an alternative outlet for your efforts.
Jute and MIke, and all the management team.