RICHMOND — When you think of a “bucket brigade,” you likely picture buckets filled with water and a line of people. On July 12 there was a “Big Bucket Brigade” at Hatcher Memorial Baptist Church in Richmond, but the 23 five-gallon buckets did not contain water. They contained medical and hygiene supplies for caregivers of HIV/AIDS patients in Africa.
Three members of Hatcher Memorial traveled to Malawi in 2006. The team was involved with in-home evangelism and discipleship. They lead a Bible study for women and taught Sunday school at Mzimba Baptist Church.
Cathy Carter remembers the afternoon the group was on a prayer-drive through a hospital area. She witnessed people laying outside in the hot sun waiting for medical treatment and became aware of the desperate need for health care products in that part of the world.
Cathy Carter’s daughter, Michelle Robertson, is a Southern Baptist missionary in Malawi. It was an email from her that sparked the mission project at Hatcher that would help address the needs seen firsthand by the team.
Baptist Global Response (BGR) was organized in 2006 to connect Southern Baptists with relief and development needs worldwide. Currently over 22.5 million adults and children are living with the HIV virus in Sub-Saharan Africa and the lack of health care, limited anti-retroviral drugs and continued increase in the spread of HIV results in the painful death of thousands each year. Thousands also die from cancer, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases–often the only care they receive is at home.
In 2008 BGR introduced a project asking churches and individuals to provide items to assist caregivers of homebound and terminally ill in Africa. The BGR In-Home Care Kit is contained in a 5-gallon, heavy duty bucket with a sealable lid.
In Africa a bucket is a very valuable item that can be used to haul and store water and food. The In-Home Care Kit is packed with vitamins, soap, lip balm and lotion to help treat skin problems that AIDS suffers battle. Waterproof pads assist keeping patients clean and dry. A cotton towel, twin sheets, washcloths, latex gloves, drinking straws, cotton socks are among some of other items. Contents of a kit cost about $100.00.
Hearts in Motion, a missions group at Hatcher Memorial, took the lead in sponsoring the project. Carter knew they could pack one or two kits; but having seen the need firsthand, she wanted to involve as many members as possible. A goal of filling 10 in-home kits was set; but by the time everyone got involved, a total of 23 were packed.
The night of the “Big Bucket Brigade” about 20 people gathered. Two packed each bucket. Items had to be placed in the bucket in certain order for them all to fit. Many were removed from their packages and placed in ziploc bags. As the buckets became full, one person had to push the contents down while the other added the next item and finally the lid was secured.
Almost 1,400 kits were packed in 2008 and Baptist Global Response has a goal of 5,000 kits for 2009. The kits from Hatcher Memorial were taken to the Virginia Baptist Resource Center and then to the International Mission Board to be shipped overseas. The kits are distributed in Africa by local Baptist and field partners.
To learn more about Baptist Global Response, check their website at www.baptistglobalresponse.com.