By USA News Group (Originally in English)
In 2006 a young, adventurous medical student named Benjamin La Brot from the United States traveled to Africa to provide medical care for people in poor, isolated areas. Once, while treating Maasai villagers in Tanzania with only a backpack full of basic medical supplies, Dr. La Brot was overwhelmed with frustration and regret at not having more supplies, as they ran out when there were still many villagers who needed immediate attention. As a result of this experience, he vowed to help people in remote areas and to ensure that in the future he would have adequate medical supplies. Thus in 2008 he founded the non-profit organization Floating Doctors, which provides free, preventive healthcare and remedial treatment to the disadvantaged in coastal villages around the world.
With a diverse team of volunteers united in heart and mind, the group travels on a 76-foot sailboat that has been transformed into a mobile medical clinic. Aptly named The Southern Wind, the eco-friendly vessel has a large cargo capacity capable of transporting sufficient medical supplies and equipment to meet immediate and urgent needs. The ship carried 11 tons of relief supplies on her first trip.
Floating Doctors has sailed The Southern Wind to treat countless underprivileged and infirm people in Haiti, Honduras and Panama. In addition to providing medical assistance and health care, Floating Doctors also educates, trains and empowers the disadvantaged in understanding and being responsible for their own health and physical well-being.
In 2008 Supreme Master Ching Hai awarded the Shining World Compassion Award and a monetary contribution of US$10,000 to Dr. Benjamin La Brot in appreciation and support of his noble efforts to alleviate the suffering of his fellow human beings. (Refer to News #204).
In 2010, upon learning that the Floating Doctors team was training emergency-care workers and serving as the medical crew for a rescue-helicopter service in Honduras, Supreme Master Ching Hai contributed another US$30,000 to aid their selfless endeavors.
During the group’s work among Panama’s Ngäbe-Buglé native people, essential medical facilities were lacking and taking patients to an area where local doctors could attend to their needs was costly. Thus an ambulance was needed and in September 2012 Dr. La Brot wrote to Supreme Master Ching Hai requesting Her kind assistance. Once again, She presented a generous gift, this time in the amount of US$12,500, the exact sum needed to buy the ambulance. According to Dr. La Brot, the ambulance has allowed critically ill patients to be transported rapidly for life-saving medical treatment.
Dr. La Brot thanked Supreme Master Ching Hai for Her ongoing, loving support, saying in a letter of appreciation, “Every year we have grown since the days when the Supreme Master honored our dream—and when it was only a dream. Now thousands of patients are seen, and the lives of patients, friends we meet along the road, our volunteers, and of all of us continue to be changed forever in ways we never imagined. You believed in us at the very beginning and your belief as much as your donation at that time helped us endure the desperate struggle of that first year.”
We wish Dr. Benjamin La Brot and the Floating Doctors much success in their laudable mission to bring medical care to the remote coastal communities of our planet. For more information on the group, please visit www.floatingdoctors.com.
(Photos credit: Floating Doctors)