Ann Rhomberg, executive director of Solidarity Bridge, accepts the Social Justice Award from the Make it Better Foundation. Others pictured include volunteers, staff, and board members.Photo by Bob McRay

Solidarity Bridge (SB), an Evanston-based nonprofit, received the Social Justice Award from the Make It Better Foundation on Nov. 14, for providing medical programs for the poor in Bolivia and Paraguay. 

The organization sends volunteer teams of top U.S. specialists on short medical mission trips to train and equip local Bolivian physicians in high-complexity surgery and other healthcare.

They aim to serve patients who otherwise have no access to this life-changing care. Long after the trips conclude, the Bolivian physicians can then better serve their fellow citizens through SB’s year-round programs in neurosurgery, general surgery, gynecologic surgery, and heart surgery. “Many missioners, donors, office volunteers, staff and members of the Board of Directors are from Evanston, including the founder, Juan Lorenzo Hinojosa,” says Ann Rhomberg, executive director of Solidarity Bridge.

The organization has served more than 60,000 patients and made possible more than 4,600 surgeries. So far in 2014, more than $7.5 million dollars worth of surgical equipment and supplies have been sent to Latin America and more than 1,700 patients served. Since 1999, the organization has provided more than $37 million worth of medical supplies, training, and equipment. Most of Solidarity Bridge’s programs are in Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, with 51% of the population living in deep poverty. 

SB plans six medical mission trips to Bolivia in 2015. “We welcome anyone to join our effort. In addition to medical professionals, many travel with us as language interpreters, helpers, photographers and bloggers. And volunteers can assist locally with events, mailings, packing or loading a truck with medical supplies,” says Ms. Rhomberg. Other exciting developments taking place in 2015 include the inauguration of the Institute for the Development of Neurosurgery to provide world-class training facilities for neurosurgeons from Bolivia and all the Latin American southern cone countries as part of the nonprofit’s Neurosurgery Program; and the first pediatric cardiac surgery unit in a public children’s hospital in Bolivia as part of SB’s pediatric open heart surgery activities. 

SB continues to expand through the support of many. “We’re very grateful for the support we receive from corporations, individuals, foundations, and parishes. All who support this life-saving effort have an opportunity to be changed themselves,” says Ms. Rhomberg. 

Anyone wishing information about how to get involved locally or travel with the team may contact solidaritybridge.info@gmail.com, call 847-328-7748, or check: http://www.solidaritybridge.org.