#135: Danielle Butin (Using Generosity And Altruism To Transform The World’s Health)
June 18 2021
13 years ago Danielle Butin, founder of Afya Foundation (afyafoundation.org) which rescues and collects discarded medical supplies to ship to 83 nations, had a significant senior job in health care. “It did not fit what I wanted to do any longer,” she says. “I was ready to make a change. I kept making that clear. Ultimately I got a severance package to launch Afya.” Divorced, with her kids at summer camp, Butin decided that instead of looking for a job, she would travel to Tanzania to clear her head. “In the Serengeti I saw a woman bawling her eyes out. I sat down with her,” she says. The woman was a doctor in London who volunteered in Africa. She was upset because she was watching children die because she didn’t have IV starter lines. “There are moments in your life when you hear something and something inside rumbles and you have to do something about it,” Butin says. “That’s what happened to me.” Though Butin knew nothing about international health or shipping, she knew she could “bring programs to life and inspire people.” Back home, she began dumpster diving in hospital alleyways to see what their garbage looked like. “Because of [U.S.] hospital regulations, anything in the [operating] room has to be discarded because there could be germs or exposure,” she explains. “There are millions of pounds of [discarded] supplies.” Listen to Butin explain how Afya weathered the storm of Covid19–where hospitals who used to supply her actually called her for PPE (personal protective equipment)–and how she skirted the red tape to get supplies where they were needed.