Representatives from MSIF’s fundraising team travelled to Buenos Aries to meet with Esclerosis Múltiple Argentina (EMA) and the Asociación de Lucha Contra la Esclerosis Múltiple (ALCEM). The aim of the trip was to share insights from the global fundraising campaign, The May 50K, and learn more about the important work MS organisations are doing in Argentina. Shona Swan, MSIF’s Fundraising Campaigns Manager tells us more about the trip below.

Buenos Días Buenos Aires

In August I had the opportunity to visit Buenos Aries in Argentina, along with my colleague Daniel Magson. We had a full week of meetings and activities planned with MS organisations in the country. The trip was a chance to meet EMA, one of The May 50K’s latest partners, and reflect on the 2022 campaign together. We were also excited to see the team at ALCEM and learn more about their work with the MS community.

Evaluating The May 50K

We spent the week with Johana Bauer, director at EMA, and her dedicated team at which was an absolute pleasure. We got to work, evaluating and sharing learning from EMA’s first year participating in The May 50K. The May 50K is a virtual event where people around the world run, walk, or roll, 50 kilometres throughout May to raise money for MS research and improving access to treatment. This year EMA, signed up to the challenge launching The May 50K in the country for the first time. Virtual fundraising challenges are not very common in Argentina, so this was a pioneering moment for the organisation.

Spending time with the EMA team was productive and insightful. We ran a digital marketing and website training supporting the team to set the foundation for future fundraising campaigns. We also got to learn about the many services EMA offers to people affected by MS: from rehabilitation, to peer support, educational workshops, art groups, employment advice and more. We developed a better understanding of how these services fill in the gaps and help people with MS navigate complex health systems.

Visiting local hospitals

One particular highlight, was our visit to the British Hospital, Ramos Mejía Hospital and De Los Arcos Sanatorio Hospital. We met many incredibly hardworking neurologists and healthcare professionals working in both public and private settings. These visits gave us an insight into the meticulous work and dedication of local healthcare professionals. A shortage of funding and resources mean that many of staff members offer free support to MS patients in public health systems.

Joining a community event

One special evening we joined EMA at a wonderful group meeting with people affected by MS and their families. We met some of the amazing ambassadors of The May 50K, along with the incredible support team at EMA. We talked about the difficulties and realities of an MS diagnosis in Argentina. There was also a chance to share stories and get to know one another over tea and cake.

Connecting with the ALCEM team

During the week we also had the opportunity to meet Susana and Silvia from ALCEM for the first time over a coffee meeting. It was brilliant learning more about how they support people with MS in Argentina and provide information and support to newly diagnosed MS patients.

Final reflections

Overall the visit was hugely insightful. We were able to fully evaluate The May 50K with EMA, strengthen working relationships in person and better understand the challenges facing people with MS in Argentina today. These learnings will help set the foundations for future fundraising campaigns within Argentina and beyond.