Shipping Container Logistics

(By Caleb)

Recently we sent another container over to Kibuye full of medical equipment, educational material, books, essential spare parts, construction supplies, tools for repairing medical equipment, and of course creature comforts like extra crunchy JIF peanut butter and enough jelly beans for the next 5 Easters.   

Getting all of the needs and wants for about 15 families living in Burundi to one geographic location was a massive undertaking.  We had ‘Packing Buddies’ all over the mid-west who volunteered to receive 100s of Amazon packages on behalf of each family.   They would unbox and repack these items into specific black bins with yellow tops.  This was a massive effort and we are so thankful for these wonderful Packing Buddies!  Most of the bins arrived in West Michigan on March 20th where the empty container awaited.  

The empty container delivered on March 19th


With help from friends and family in Muskegon and the great gentlemen of JDB Carpentry we started packing the container using a method we’ve used in the past.  The black and yellow bins from Home Depot fit nicely together on the bottom and a false floor is built above to support items of every shape and size.

Lunch break!

My nephews hard at work building inside the container

Bins on the bottom, odd shaped items on top.  Trying to use every cubic inch.

The deliveries continue with lots of helping hands to unload.

All packed.  Only space left for M&Ms in the nooks and crannies.

A giant crane came on April 14th to load the container on a truck.  Unfortunately, we discovered that we were slightly (2,000 lbs.) over our 42,000 lbs. weight limit.  The crane operator was an extremely patient man and allowed us to quickly remove a full bunk of 2x4s before lifting it again to load on a truck chassis.  


Wow!  Big crane!

All loaded up on the truck...but without the 2x4s.  😧

The container then travelled by road to Chicago and by rail to New York City where it was loaded on to the Express Rome, a container ship capable of carrying thousands of containers or 10,114 TEU.  This is considerably smaller than the now famous Ever Given (20,124 TEU) which you may remember became stuck in the Suez Canal for a week back in March.  

The Express Rome


The Express Rome has completed its voyage across the Atlantic and through the Mediterranean Sea and is now scheduled to pass through the Suez Canal on May 18th which might just be the day you read this!!   I pray it fairs better than the Ever Given.  You can track the current position of the Express Rome at this link.

Current Position of the Express Rome as of May 17th, 8pm EST


The container will continue to Mundra, India where it will be offloaded and reloaded on another ship called the Emirates Asante (follow at this link) which will travel down to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.  The container will then travel the 850 miles by road to Kibuye.  It is due to arrive sometime in mid- to late-July about 3-4 months after it left Michigan.  


The world of shipping container logistics is fascinating to me.  And the fact that one ship lodged sideways in the Suez canal can disrupt the global economy….wow!  I hope you enjoyed a little look into how we get some much-needed supplies over to Kibuye Hope Hospital.     


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