Founded by Leila Janah and Shawn Graft, Samahope is a new crowdsourcing platform that connects people to patients in poor countries. Janah, a social entrepreneur, and Graft, a business analyst and web developer, decided to start the site after visiting a rural Sierra Leone clinic run by Dr. Darius Maggi, a retired OB/GYN from Texas who was performing 200 volunteer surgeries every year and fundraising on his own. Today, millions of people in less fortunate countries still suffer from debilitating medical conditions that can be treated with a simple procedure. Through Samahope, anyone, anywhere can help change another person’s life by funding their surgery with just a few dollars.
“There are millions of people who need corrective surgeries that we take for granted in the West,” says Janah.
Samahope, which launched just last month, focuses on procedures with a high rate of success, relatively low cost, and major life impact, including burn contracture release, obstetric fistula repair, and cleft palate repair. Samahope teams up with local clinics and hospitals in poor communities that have an excellent track record. Approved partners post profiles of patients who have recently received or are awaiting surgery, as well as post updates on the progress of the procedures. In addition to collecting and sending donations to the appropriate partner every month, Samahope performs regular site and patient audits to ensure that every cent is spent properly.
Samahope is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to scale its site. With additional funds, the team plans to add new partner organizations, increase the number of supported surgeries, and market to potential donors, among others.
Aside from working on Samahope, Janah is collecting patient stories, which she’ll include in a book that she’s writing. According to her, being able to tell these stories and help others is “a very powerful thing.”