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Norman groups able to work 'so many miracles' in Africa even without new supplies

Shipping container filled with medical and construction supplies for Norman-based 1040i still tied up in customs in Ivory Coast of Africa.
by Lillie-Beth Brinkman Published: February 16, 2013

“We thought it was released,” Yaw said. She said agents keep giving the group a list of things they had to do, questions they had to answer and signatures they required to get the container released. Once 1040i gets them, it has to “start all over the next day.”

And each day, 1040i has to pay money to the Ivory Coast government to store the container.

“The longer it stays in customs, the more money this organization has to pay,” she said. “The cost just grows significantly.”

Despite the setback, the group's members were amazed at all the work they were able to accomplish to help a group of people who don't get regular medical care, Yaw and Usry said.

Working in a cinder block hospital built in the 1960s, mobile surgical tents and a trailer, doctors and nurses fixed cleft palates, treated burns, performed OB-GYN surgeries such as fistula repairs on women's bladders, removed cysts and other benign tumors and treated illnesses.

“They just told me there were so many miracles that they witnessed happened without some of those supplies,” Usry said. “They were limited, but we'll just do more next year.”

Yaw said that patients wait in line for hours each day hoping to receive care.

“They understand that when we're not there, they don't receive anything,” she said.

If the container is released early in the week, it will have to travel about 20 hours north to get to the small city of Doropo, where 1040i is working, Yaw said.

by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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To learn more

For more information about the medical phase of the trip and read about the second phase, which is gearing up this weekend, go to


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