A Volvo station wagon from Montgomery County will have a second life as an ambulance in the West African country of Guinea.
Mbemba Kouyate and his wife, Gail, of Norristown, have been stockpiling medical equipment to send to Dinguiraye, the prefecture with about 47,000 residents in north-central Guinea where Kouyate grew up.
Hundreds of canes, walkers, crutches and wheelchairs picked up from Goodwill and the Salvation Army sit in two storage containers in Norristown. The ambulance is merely the largest piece of equipment the couple has acquired, paying $3,500 for it, with the artwork on the sides donated by Signarama.
Kouyate has lived in the U.S. since 1993, but travels home to Guinea, where he used to be a journalist. In 2012, a close friend had both legs amputated, due complications from his diabetes.
“He was a very busy guy and seeing that … it’s difficult,” said Kouyate. “He was always sitting in the house because he can’t even go down the steps.”
After sending mobility aids to that friend, who has since passed away, Kouyate began his quest to acquire used equipment for others.
“We have many people who are getting amputated in a big hospital [in Conakry], but when they go back to their village, they don’t have any wheelchairs or crutches to get around,” he said.
To ship all of the goods the Kouyates have gathered, they’ve started a nonprofit called “Mobility and Health 4 Africa” to raise funds. They are coordinating with L’Hopital de Dinguiraye and another hospital in the capital of Conakry, which specializes in diabetic care, to receive the donations.