By David F. Rooney
Ray Brosseuk has done pretty well in life, well enough from mining gold in the Yukon and fabricating his Gold Machine rotary placer gold-sluicing and recovery machines that he can indulge his real passion: helping people in the South Pacific and Africa.
Just a couple of weeks ago he quietly shipped out his latest container, a 40-foot steel box containing desperately needed medical supplies, clothing, medical devices and lots of barrels full of dehydrated soup. Each barrel contains 80 one-kilo bags, each of which can feed 200 people.
Ray has mostly shipped his containers to communities in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and Lesotho — all places where Ray grew up as a boy — so Sierra Leone, which is in West Africa, is new territory.
“I have a client who purchased a gold machine for his operation in Sierra Leone,” Ray said Wednesday, September 17.
Not unnaturally Ray asked him what conditions were like in the rural villages near his placer mining operation and was told that the people were desperately poor. They are also in a country that has been hard hit by the terrifying Ebola epidemic that has killed thousands of people.
Ray was planning on shipping the Gold Machine off in a container and asked the man if, since he was already paying $4,700 to ship the container by sea to Freetown, Sierra Leone, he would be willing to pay an extra $1,600 to ship a larger, 40-foot container that Ray could fill with food, clothing, medical supplies and medical equipment. The client agreed and Ray began beating the bushes for things to send to Sierra Leone. He got dehydrated soup, bales of clean clothes and — from Interior Health and Queen Victoria Hospital — several pallets of hand sanitizers, portable first-aid and surgical kits, and other supplies that would be difficult or outright impossible to find in Sierra Leone. As well, the Red Cross came up with wheelchairs, crutches and other medical devices from Kelowna, Kamloops, Creston and Revelstoke.
Thanks to teams of volunteers everything was packed into the steel container around the Gold Machine, which is now on its way to Africa by ship and should arrive in Freetown in about a month. Once their they will be distributed by a registered charity for distribution.
Here are some photos, taken recently by Sue Leach, of the volunteers at work doing their best to help people who really, really need our assistance: