Lug along an extra suitcase to save a life

October 4, 2017 by  

Thanks to a new set-up in Waterloo, checking an extra suitcase at the airport may save a life, provided that suitcase is filled with medical supplies.

A nonprofit charity group called Not Just Tourists sends suitcases filled with medical supplies along with Canadian tourists, when they travel to impoverished countries like Cuba, Mexico and Jamaica.

The Waterloo division of this charity group recently opened, and will be accepting contributions from the entire region, including Cambridge and Kitchener.

The medical supplies donated are often considered surplus by the clinics and hospitals. They may have been in storage at the clinic, or no longer needed after the hospital upgrades their supplies. Almost anything is accepted, except for controlled drugs and narcotics.

The charity is also always in need of suitcases, pointing out that sometimes the suitcases are harder to come by then the medical supplies themselves. In addition, because the charity operates without any funding, help is needed from volunteers. The suitcases get stuffed full of medical supplies during what is fondly referred to as “pack parties”.

Not Just Tourists was started back in 1990 by a doctor from St. Catharines, Ontario. He and his wife learned of Cuba’s desperate need for medical supplies during a family vacation. Since then, they have been responsible for shipping thousands of pounds of supplies like exam gloves, antibiotics and surgical equipment to almost 50 countries.

Flyers and signs are often used to reach out to locals when initiatives like this are set up. To make a donation or volunteer, contact or