Bringing Experiential Learning to International Outreach


Dr. Bill Ritchie, CSX Professor of Management at JMU partnered with Dr. Mark Smith, Executive Director of Mihret Medical Supply Group to create the Global Medical Relief Project. The purpose of the endeavor was to provide the JMU Supply Chain students with an engaged learning opportunity. As this project develops, details will be posted to this site as a resource for other university supply chain programs interested in creating engaged learning projects. The Global Medical Relief Project serves to facilitate the delivery of medical supplies internationally by engaging JMU students in global logistics activities that brings vital healthcare resources to Ethiopia, Congo, and now Ukraine as well.

This unique partnership with Mihret Medical Supply (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization), has served healthcare-related needs in both the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.

Collaboration of Many Entities

Successful implementation of this project has required the involvement of many stakeholders. Carilion and Sentara RMH have donated a variety of healthcare assets such as beds and medical supplies. The InterChange Group has provided discounted storage for the equipment storage. JS-Expedite has donated transportation from the warehouse space to the port in Norfolk, VA. The global logistics organization, EFL Global, USA has donated transportation between the port in Norfolk, VA and Djibouti. Geollect has provided Dr. Ritchie with software to demonstrate remote sensing and vessel tracking. Odoo, a Belgium-based company, donated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to help the students monitor and track inventory and warehouse activities.

A Brief History of the Project

Dr. Bill Ritchie, CSX Professor of Management at James Madison University, and Dr. Mark Smith, Executive Director of Mihret Medical Supply Group, met in the summer of 2019 to identify ways in which JMU Supply Chain Students might engage in global logistics as well as help support the mission of Mihret. The most pressing issue at the time was the Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other surrounding countries.

Ritchie and Smith identified the most critical needs for Mihret as sourcing, storing, and shipping the medical equipment and supplies.

Thanks to the help of various donors and contributors, the initial launch of the project was able to deliver a 40′ container to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Febrary, 2020. Since that time, this project has helped Mihret ship four additional 40′ high cube containers to Africa. The project just expanded its outreach with a shipment to Ukraine in September of 2022.