As wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and other pieces of medical equipment were unpacked at a hospital in Ghana, staff members, patients, and others gathered around and recited prayers of thanks.
Those blessings were bestowed on members of Congregation Beit Shalom in Monroe, who sent the donated the items, in recognition of “all the things they give to Ghana.”
Most of the synagogue’s members are seniors, residents of the numerous active adult communities in Monroe. Many had medical apparatus they no longer needed, some that had been used by spouses who had passed away, said Beit Shalom president Maurice Mahler.
Many of the aides assisting congregants with medical issues are from Ghana — “They’re wonderful people,” said Mahler — and it was from them that the synagogue learned of the needs of the African country’s cash-strapped medical facilities, in particular the difficulty of providing equipment for the disabled and injured.
Among those aides is Amelia Adjei, who regularly accompanies congregant Bernice Mayer to services.
Adjei “knows the prayers better than a lot of people in the congregation, she’s been coming to the shul so long,” quipped Mahler. “She knows all the brachas.” On one occasion, he said, Adjei came to the synagogue with her children and several other aides “in native dress to talk to us and told us about how even children were using tree limbs as a cane or crutch.”
Mahler said that the congregation, motivated by the Jewish value of giving help to those in need, not only donated members’ items, but appealed to area doctors, nurses working in the adult communities, clinics, and Monroe Township Emergency Medical Services for contributions of supplies.
Mahler, a professional artist, designed a sticker to place on each item that featured a star of David and the inscription: “Donated to the wonderful people of Ghana from the Jewish Congregation Beit Shalom, Monroe Township, New Jersey.”
“There is so much anti-Semitism in the world, I wanted them to know this was given to them by Jews,” said Mahler. Ghana’s official language is English.
Mayer, who said Adjei had often told her about the dearth of medical supplies in Ghana, had suggested to Mahler that the synagogue should make the gift.
“Everyone in the congregation, doctors’ offices, everywhere we went, everyone was just so generous,” Mayer told NJJN in a phone interview. Adjei, she added, “is a wonderful person, a blessing in every way.”
Adjei paid for sending the more than 100 items, which were transported by cargo ship through Majesty Shipping, which gave her a reduced rate. She said a friend picked up the equipment at the dock in the summer and brought it to the hospital. Adjei presented it on a trip back to her hometown of Wamfie, located in the country’s Brong Ahafo Region, about 200 miles northwest of Ghana’s capital of Accra.
“The physical therapists there don’t have these things,” said Adjei in a phone interview with NJJN after her return to New Jersey. She said she asked the synagogue to make the donation to the facility in Wamfie. “I was born in this hospital, so I decided to give back to this hospital,” said Adjei, whose grandmother and cousins still live in the town.
She said when she arrived at the hospital, “there was so much appreciation. There were patients sitting there, stroke patients just waiting. They were so happy.”
Adjei said those gathered knew who had sent the equipment — there are Jews in Ghana — and joined in reciting the prayer of thanks for the donors’ kindness.
Adjei said of Beit Shalom’s members: “I feel very blessed and thank them for this opportunity every day.”
The congregation is now conducting a drive to collect additional equipment to ship to Ghana.