SOUTH PORTLAND – In Magwi County in the newly independent African country of South Sudan, there is a health clinic, but it has only six beds and lacks basic medical supplies, such as sheets, bandages and syringes.

So the South Sudan Acholi Community of Maine is teaming up with the Scarborough-based Partners for World Health to raise the money needed to send a 40-foot shipping container of donated medical supplies to the war-torn country.

“In the U.S., you go to a hospital and you don’t worry about bringing your own sheet,” said Lilly Angelo, who witnessed the poor state of health care in her home country during a visit last December. “You don’t worry about bringing your own paper for the doctor to write a record.”

Partners for World Health is a nonprofit that collects unused medical supplies that would typically be thrown way. The group currently has enough inventory to fill a cargo container with about 48,000 pounds of medical supplies, valued at $250,000, according to Elizabeth McLennan, the nonprofit’s founder and president.

The only obstacle is raising the estimated $25,000 in shipping costs to send it from Scarborough to South Sudan.

The group took the first steps toward raising that money by holding a fundraiser Saturday evening at Southern Maine Community College.

The event featured an array of African foods — such as kisral (a spongy bread), sambosa (a triangular pastry stuffed with meat and vegetables), sokuma (collard greens and meat) and mandazi (an African donut) — and African song and dance.

Tickets for the event cost only $10, so Angelo didn’t expect to raise the entire $25,000 in one night. But she is in it for the long haul, not only to help the sick in South Sudan, but to honor the memory of her father.

Angelo, 29, is the daughter of Angelo Okot, a prominent Sudanese community leader both in Sudan and Portland who died in 2009 in an accident while in Sudan.

Angelo visited Magwi in December to see her father’s grave. During the trip, she also visited the health clinic and was inspired to take on her father’s dream of providing health supplies to their native village.

“When he passed away, that’s when it really hit me,” Angelo said. “We have to keep his legacy alive. That’s what keeps me going.”

Both Angelo and her father’s longtime friend Edward Laboke have witnessed the deplorable conditions in South Sudan, which gained its independence last year after years of civil war that practically destroyed the country, especially its hospitals and schools.

The poor state of the health clinic in Magwi means the sick must often make a daylong journey to Uganda to be treated. Patients and their families typically have to pay for the gas to be transported there. And the roads are in such poor shape, they often must split the journey into two days.

“(Patients) just die on the way,” said Laboke, 47, who came to Portland in 2001. “It’s really dire. There is a tremendous need for just about everything.”

Portland residents Christina, 28, and Shane Ashe, 32, were among the 70 or so people who attended Saturday’s fundraising event in South Portland.

“I think we take for granted the fact we have access to health care,” Christina Ashe said. “You forget there are people who don’t have access to basic health care.”

Angelo said she printed 460 tickets for the event, which ran until 11 p.m. Final fundraising figures were not immediately available.

Those who want to help, but missed the event, may send checks, made payable to Partners for World Health, to 7 Glasgow Road, Scarborough, Maine 04074, with “Acholi Community” written in the memo.

“It doesn’t matter how long it takes — 10, 15 years — it’s still going to happen,” Angelo said. “I know (my father) is looking down on me. I just want to keep his spirit alive, because he was a great man.”

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

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Twitter: @randybillings