Our breakthrough event took place in March 2018. We were finally able to make our first equipment donation. Our journey brought us to Artsakh, region Karabakh. This territory is located in the Middle East between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The two countries have been in a war conflict, fighting over the region since many years. The people in Artsakh are caught between the crossfire of the conflict. However, they have decided to take care of their own development and organization. We want to support them in this approach by donating the equipment. Our good friend Mikael Tamarkin introduced us to the regional authority in their capital Stepanakert. After a couple months of planning and tremendous support of Karen Ohanjanyan, a local resident, we could successfully realize the project in March 2018. We donated an incubator, a centrifuge, two mini shaker and a UV-vis-spectrometer. A part was given to the university of Artsakh and the other part to a hospital both located in Stepanakert.
The lab equipment were handed over in an official ceremony. We presented our foundation to the students and representatives in the university. Additionally, we gave a lecture in the perspectives in the Life Science industry. Both presentations were filmed and broadcasted in the state TV the same day. We were warmly welcomed during the whole travel through Artsakh and especially in the university. We were truly impressed with the hospitality offered by all the people we met and the warmth they showed us.
We were hosted by the minister of health, who used the meeting to personally thank us for the donations.
The travel to Artsakh was very important to us. It was our first mission since Kuhner Foundation was established. The journey served as a test to verify all our defined and developed processes. We passed the test successfully. We are glad and proud to see that our theoretical considerations live up to the reality. To see the joy in the recipient’s eyes encourages and motivates us to fund further Projects.
We would like to thank all the companies and institutes, who trusted us and donated their lab equipment. We are looking forward to more lab equipment receptions and consequently more donation missions.
Following is a translated article, which was written by author Christian Frey in German (see German section of the blog for the original text). It describes the mission to Artsakh with a bit more details. We thank Christian for his fabulous report.
It is finally happening end of March 2018 – the three members of Kuhner Foundation arrive in Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh. The transport of the fragile equipment from Switzerland to southwestern of Azerbaijan was successful, no troubles were encountered. The centrifuge, the incubator, and further lab equipment arrived undamaged in the university of Artsakh as well as in the municipal hospital. Now the team gives an introduction in the functionality and the area of use of the equipment. Also important is the continuous knowledge transfer – the scientist in Stepanakert should be able to develop their own ideas which contribute in the solutions of medicinal and ecological – or nutritional issues in the region.
But how was the foundation established at all? Laura Kühner (Mechanical engineer) works at Kühner AG, which produces and distributes high end lab equipment. She noticed that chemical and pharmaceutical companies sort out and scrap outdated but still functional lab equipment from time to time. Laura says it has always been her wish to do something against this waste without knowing how exactly she could realize her goal. The idea to give away a lab shaker as a reward in a contest came up during a business meeting together with Tim Bürgin (Biotechnologist). This initial idea was further developed to cement in the establishment of the foundation. The team was completed by Gifty Dwamena (Chemist). They founded Kuhner Foundation with the purpose to promote self-help measures.
Companies give Kuhner Foundation their equipment, after taking them out of service. The team checks the equipment and seeks potential recipients. Finally, the foundation takes care of the transport and handover of the equipment and trains the receiving personnel.
The newly established foundation was made aware about the crisis area in the Middle East through a distributing partner of Kühner AG. The foundation thereafter contacted the local university, the hospital and customs. The republic of Artsakh is not recognized by the UN and also not from the Council of Europe and belongs to Azerbaijan in terms of international law. A civil war broke out after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its aftermath is still noticeable till date. There are no clear signs of war visible in the core of the city; however, if you drive a bit away from the center, a trail of the destruction can be seen everywhere Gifty Dwamena stated. The population has a low standard of living, the economy is weak and the political situation is still not stable.
After this breakthrough project, the team hopes to receive more requests from companies, who are willing to support the foundation. The objective of the team is to be able to conduct such a major project once a year.