By Darlene Donloe
Health4Peace Founder and CEO Nathalie Beasnael gets emotional when she thinks about the impact her organization is having on small villages in Africa and its far-reaching potential.
She is literally brought to tears when asked what her hope is for the three-year-old organization’s future.
“So much needs to be done,” said Beasnael, a native of the Republic of Chad. “Three years from now I want everyone in my country to know they have help, hope and peace.”
Health4Peace is a nonprofit dedicated to helping hospitals and medical facilities in rural African nations.
The organization helps with supplies, services, transportation and anything else needed to keep residents in some villages healthy. The goal is to promote, protect and improve the lifelong health of individuals and communities.
This year, the organization’s third annual Health4Peace Award & Fundraising Gala with the theme, “Go With Love,” will be held Nov. 11 at a private estate in Beverly Hills, and will benefit hospitals in Chad, Senegal, Ghana and South Africa.
Baesnael has a personal connection with each one of the countries her organization services.
“I grew up in Ghana,” she said. “It gave me English and a sense of who I am. My father was always in Senegal. My aunt and uncle also lived there.
“It was the first country that gave me French. I became a French-speaking African. Senegal is a home away from home for me.
“In South Africa, it’s the people. My dad had us meet Miriam Makeba and I became close to the Mandela grandchildren. Regarding all four countries — it’s a full circle for me. The fundraiser will help us continue our work in those countries.”
During the gala, designed to raise funds and bring awareness, a number of individuals who are making a global impact within the health field will be honored and awards also will be given to those who have persevered and made a difference through music, film, and fashion.
Honorees include state Sen. Steven Bradford, actress Sharon Stone, Ndileka Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter who is a social activist, former nurse, and the head of the Thembekile Mandela Foundation in South Africa), Phillip Westbrooks (CEO of Spectrum Solutions), Judge Carlos E. Moore (The Cochran Firm), Dr. Jonathan T. Turriago (Cedars Sinai), Anila Ali, Dr. Lance McCarthy, Beverly Peele (model and actress), Hicham Benslimane (fashion designer), Angelica Hale, (business development consultant) and Sikata Nguemta (Chadian TV host).
Featured speakers include Mandela, Stone, photographer/filmmaker Norman Seeff, and authors Sarah Adams and Christina Adams.
Celebrities expected to attend include Ben Vereen, Johnny Gill, the DeBarge Family and boxer Mia St. John.
The goal is to raise $100,000 and distribute it, along with equipment, to two hospitals in each country (Chad, Senegal, Ghana and South Africa).
“We also want to send knowledge,” said Beasnael who came to the U.S. with her family in 1989, got married, and moved to England before moving to California. “Those hospitals in those rural villages don’t have the updated knowledge that they do here. I want to send a container to each hospital that would contain everything a hospital would need to operate adequately. The containers would cost about $30,000 each.”
Beasnael, who works as a recovery nurse at Surgical Institute in Beverly Hills, said rural hospitals are able to operate fully on $5,000.
“If you want clean water that would cost $3,000,” she said. “With clean water, you can stop infectious diseases. Some rural hospitals don’t have maternity wards and don’t have triage. Sick people are walking miles to a clinic to find out there is no medicine. Together, we can do something.”
A humanitarian, philanthropist and social entrepreneur, Beasnael, who speaks five languages, began Health4Peace after seeing a woman sprawled on the steps of a clinic in her native Chad, who had waited more than 24 hours for the facility to open. She was in enormous pain but didn’t have the $10 needed to transport herself to a hospital in the city, so she waited.
Neither the woman, nor Beasnael knew it at the time, but she was having a miscarriage.
It so happened that Beasnael had only $10 on her. She gave it to the woman, who made it to the hospital, but lost her baby.
“I cried like a baby,” said Beasnael, a single mother of a daughter, 20, and 16-year-old son. “It just broke my heart. There are too many of those kinds of stories. I have those same stories within my own family.”
Beasnael tells the story of her cousin who died from Hepatitis C last year and of an aunt who fell off of a motorbike and busted open her arm. Even after she went to a clinic, her aunt, a banker, still experienced a serious arm bleed.
“They hadn’t taken care of the arm properly,” Beasnael said. “In my country, whatever home remedy they have is what they use.”
Beasnael said she continues to count her blessings.
“My story is a story for the locals in Chad,” she said. “I was fortunate. God had my parents get me out of those villages and eventually make it to the States. My mom is also a nurse and my dad is a diplomat. I’m from the southern part of Chad where you’re not expected to develop.
“Look at me. I’m a nurse. I’m doing OK. I would be selfish if I didn’t give back to my people,” she added. “What’s happening there and in other areas of Africa — it hurts me. This organization is the vision God gave me. People need each other and need help. No one makes it alone. I just want to help.”
At this year’s event, award-winning journalist Simo Ben Bachir is this year’s red-carpet host. Tyrone DuBose returns as the voiceover host, and KJLH radio personality Tammi Mac returns as the host.
The gala features a silent auction and cocktail hour, a three-course meal by a renowned chef, a fashion show by fashion designer Hicham Benslimane, and an after-party.
“People need our help,” Beasnael said. “All of us can do something.”
“Making a Difference” is a regular feature profiling organizations that are serving their communities. To propose a “Making a Difference” profile, send an email to email@example.com.
Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.