They're thousands of miles apart, but their mission is the same: bring peace to the end of people's lives. Hospice of Washington County adopted a sister organization, Coast Hospice in Mombassa, Kenya, in an area where many Africans live and die in pain.
"The need is huge, but the resources are so few, and I think that impacted me more than anything while I was there, just the compassion of the people in need," says Steve Taylor, the spiritual care coordinator at Hospice of Washington County.
Nearly two million Africans are diagnosed with the HIV/AIDS virus every year. In a nation where healthcare is hard to come by, patients come to Coast Hospice to make their final days as comfortable as possible.
"They die at home with their families and they're happier that way, and they die in peace," explains Faustin Mgendi, the CEO at Coast Hospice. Mgendi started the organization after he saw the quality of life his mother lived with through Hospice care.
Coast Hospice covers such a wide area and sometimes they can't even afford basic medical needs for patients. Their version of Hospice is forced to focus more on spiritual and emotional care rather than physical.
"They really are committed to making sure that the families are cared for and sometimes we are not that blessed here in America with that same philosophy," says Susan Taylor, the CEO at Hospice of Washington County.
Washington County employees collected $3,000 for their sister Hospice, but they're hoping to raise more money through an African art auction this weekend. Buying even a small piece of art can make a big difference. At Coast Hospice, about $30 will cover one month of medical expenses for a patient.
Even though the African organization has little to give, they have a lot to share.
Steve Taylor adds, "We have a lot to offer them, but in return, they have so much to teach us. I think they can teach us a lot about ministering to patients with cancer-related issues as well as HIV/AIDS related issues."
The African Art Auction is being held this Saturday, April 24th from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. at the Academy Theater in Hagerstown. All proceeds benefit Hospice of Washington County, Inc. and Coast Hospice in Kenya, Africa.
Tickets are $20 each and must be purchased in advance. To buy tickets, call (301) 791-6360 or stop by Hospice of Washington County at 747 Northern Avenue in Hagerstown.