Recycling those little, plastic pill bottles that Westerners take for granted is behind a genius plan for helping out millions of people in Africa.
In Malawi, a shortage of bottles means people need to carry loose pills home in their hands or wrapped in paper. Once they arrive home in mud-and-thatch huts, they have to find a way to store them so they stay clean and dry.
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The container shortage endangers the health of people who depend on daily doses of medicines to treat everything from high blood pressure to HIV.
An Indiana charity figured out an amazingly simple and highly successful solution to the problem — recycle used bottles in America.
Dick and Diana Stephens had already distributed $200 million in aid to the country through their Malawi Project founded in 2000 – but the issue of pill containers had confounded them for years.
Dick came up with the idea of recycling used bottles in what he called a “Eureka moment” that hit him while he was staring into his medicine cabinet.
He put out a Facebook appeal and pretty soon, he and Diana were getting as many as 200 packages in the mail every day. More than two million used bottles were donated in eight months.
So many deliveries were coming in, they had to suspend the drive over the holidays when the Postal Service worried they wouldn’t be able to keep up the deliveries.
The Malawi Project now has more bottles than it can handle — and is not taking more donations — at least until they deliver their stockpile overseas.
But its website lists other groups doing similar work and encourages people to start pill bottle recycling projects like theirs through local churches and their missionary programs.
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