History of MMA

In the early 20th Century, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) sent a number of medical missionaries to African and Asian countries that had huge medical problems but little or no resources. As a result of concern by friends in Australia, MMA was formally established as an auxiliary of CMS Victoria on 5th January 1920. Working out of a depot in Melbourne, MMA became a practical support group by sending 22 lb parcels of medical supplies to a number of countries. This expanded to shipping containers packed full of medical supplies and equipment, drugs, and a variety of donated goods.

By the late 1990’s requests for assistance began to change. Firstly came a request for a bridging loan to buy land for a clinic in the slums of Nairobi. This loan was later donated to help build the clinic. Then came a request for money to renovate the maternity ward of a small rural hospital in Tanzania. These two requests resulted in positive experiences that were helpful as situations began to change. The changing situation included increasing freight costs, aging volunteers, notice to vacate the hall that was being used to sort and pack goods and the increasing local availability of many goods. A decision was made in 2001 to discontinue sending goods overseas and to seek other practical ways of helping the poorest of the poor.

MMA was transformed in 2002 with Incorporation and the establishment of an Overseas Aid Fund. From being an auxiliary of CMS, MMA became an organisation in its own right, associated with CMS but with its own focus. MMA Inc. now offers funding for medical and health related activities in disadvantaged countries, partnering with church and other organizations. Projects include funding for people living with disability and those affected by HIV/AIDS, grants to Bible Schools and hospitals to cover student’s medical expenses and to buy drugs, medical supplies and equipment, and sponsorship of training for health students. Because of historical links most projects have been in Tanzania and Nepal.

About 80% of funds for MMA’s work comes from committed support groups, individual donors and bequests. The remaining 20% comes from the MMA Opportunity Shop operating in the grounds of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Kew. The Op shop first opened in 1973 in Station Street, Malvern, was transferred to Glenferrie Road, Glenferrie in 1978 and moved to its present location in 2002. Initially run by a team of loyal volunteers, on whom the shop is still heavily dependent, it also now employs salaried managers.