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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • A Gift of Knowledge

    by Sarah Austria | May 24, 2016

    As a compassionate community leader in a small village in Myanmar, Rebecca was often asked by fellow villagers for help with illnesses and injuries. She did her best to care for her community, but there was one major challenge - Rebecca had no medical training.

    Understandably, her advice was often inaccurate. Many people in Rebecca’s community didn’t realize they should see a doctor when sick-- and leaders like Rebecca didn’t know warning signs for serious conditions. Myanmar is the poorest country in Asia, and medical care in rural areas of the country is often difficult to access. Community leaders like Rebecca fill an important role in caring for their communities. But without specific health education for these leaders, communities are vulnerable.

    Rebecca_Myanmar_Health_Educator

    Thanks to you, the village of Japat now has a priceless gift: knowledge. Medical Teams International conducted health-education training in Rebecca’s village. Through the training sessions Rebecca gained the knowledge she needed to give more accurate health advice and to keep her community healthy.

    Her newfound knowledge was quickly put to the test. A villager in Rebecca’s community cut his leg on his way to work. The wound was deep and serious - he was quickly losing blood. His blood pressure dropped and he became tired. He hobbled to Rebecca for advice. Thanks to her new knowledge, Rebecca knew that pressure was critical to slow the bleeding-- and that he needed to see a doctor or risk death. Before her training, she may not have realized that the man’s life was in danger.

    They had to cross nearly a dozen streams to reach the nearest hospital - all while the man continued to bleed.

    By the time they arrived, he was barely conscious.

    Thankfully, doctors were able to successfully suture the man’s leg to stop the bleeding. They told Rebecca that had she not brought him to the hospital, he probably would have died.

    Prior to her training, Rebecca’s good intentions likely wouldn’t have been good enough. She may not have realized the importance of getting the man to the hospital, simply due to her inadequate training. In this case, a lack of knowledge could have led to the man’s death.

    Rebecca was happy that her patient would heal. She is proud of herself - her training saved a life. Thanks to you, Rebecca now has the power to keep her community healthy and strong.

    Your gift gives knowledge. Thanks to you, communities like Rebecca’s can take responsibility for their own health and well-being. Share Rebecca’s story on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Or get involved and volunteer with Medical Teams International!

  • Sophea’s Story: Survival, hardship and hope.

    by Emily Crowe | May 20, 2016

    This is the first story in a series collected by Healthy Women, Healthy World to share the stories of the women who inspire their initiative. Meet Sophea, one of the women of Medical Teams International who is working hard in Cambodia to ensure better healthcare for women around the world.


    Upon meeting Sophea, I was immediately drawn to her and her story. It is one of many stories of survival from the Khmer Rouge regimen but Sophea’s story is one of hardship, survival, perseverance and hope. –Kristi

    Sophea was born in 1965. Sophea was one of nine siblings—four died before their fifth birthday. Sophea is from a village in Battambang province, Cambodia. She grew up during the bloody Pol Pot regime—a time of brutal violence, state-led genocide, and heart-wrenching loss.

    When she was just 10, she and her brothers were forced to leave home. Here, they survived on watery porridge, slept in hammocks and spent hours doing hard labor in the nearby fields. Sophea constantly worried about her family and couldn’t sleep. Stationed just a few miles from home – but forbidden to visit her family – sometimes she would sneak out at night to see them. This is how she learned what was happening to the rest of her family: her father had been murdered by Pol Pot’s soldiers. Her uncles, afraid they were next, fled. Her grandmother starved to death. Not even a teenager, Sophea witnessed so much loss.

    When Vietnam began attaching Khmer Rouge soldiers, bombings threatened everyone. Her family fled to a nearby village. For two months, they survived by eating the grains of rice left in the rice fields after harvest. They were so desperate for food. Rice became the currency of trade.

    Soon, her family fled to refugee camps on the border in search of safety. They arrived at the camps safely, but were not there long before they were robbed. Without money for rice, they would soon starve. They returned to their village, but soon discovered their house had been taken by another family. Living with relatives, things finally began to get better. Sophea returned to school and her brothers opened a tailoring business.

    But, then—finally recovering after so much loss and heartache—her brothers were drafted to fight. Afraid to lose even more, her family returned to the refugee camps—fleeing twice to avoid attacks by Pol Pot’s soldiers.

    Despite food rations and occasional bombings, life finally began improving for Sophea—now in her twenties. Working hard, Sophea passed the midwifery exam and began work as a midwife. She married and began a family, and both she and her husband worked hard helping their fellow Cambodians heal after the many scars left by war.

    Sophea has spent over three decades working with nonprofits—providing care to women affected by AIDS, working with local communities, improving quality of care at clinics and helping more women have access to reproductive healthcare. It was difficult work: She had to live away from her family to reach the communities that needed the most care. Landmines left from the war made this job very dangerous. To earn her Public Health degree, she traveled over four hours every weekend to attend classes. Her dedication to the health of her people and her drive to learn kept her passionate to keep working hard.

    Sophea joined Medical Teams International in January 2013. She lives in Phnom Penh with her husband and three children. She brings her passion and experience to two core programs: Healthy Children & Safe Motherhood & Medical Services & Training. After years of service in the villages, Sophea has earned the respect of those working alongside her in the field—and is making a big difference in our work in Cambodia. We are so blessed to have her on the team!

  • Uganda: Dreams of a Baby

    by Sarah Austria | May 17, 2016

    Veciana and her husband, Simeon, were excited to have children. Twice, the excitement of pregnancy was followed by the devastation of a miscarriage at three months. But she remained hopeful as she sought help at her local health clinic in Burundi--Maybe, with treatment, she could have a safe birth. Unfortunately, when she inquired about treatment she was told that she was fine - and that there were no solutions for her. After the second miscarriage, Veciana was afraid she would may never be able to have a baby.

    Uganda_Veciana_Community_Health

    Then, Veciana and Simeon’s life was thrown into turmoil. Violence broke out in Burundi and their community was attacked. The couple fled, taking with them a neighbor girl who became orphaned after her entire family was killed in the attack.

    After safely arriving as refugees in Uganda, Veciana began to notice pain in her pelvis. She was worried. A local health worker trained by Medical Teams International encouraged her to get tested for cervical cancer. Thankfully, there was no cancer.

    While at the Medical Teams International health clinic, Veciana mentioned her previous miscarriages. There, staff made a discovery: a simple, treatable issue with her cervix was likely causing her miscarriages. Veciana also learned something else at the clinic- she was pregnant.

    Thanks to you, Medical Teams International was able to perform a simple surgery that repaired her cervix, and made it safer for her to carry a child.

    Finally, she found the treatment she'd been seeking

    When we last talked to her, she was six months pregnant! So far, it seems the surgery was a success. At first, Veciana was nervous that she would miscarry again... especially at three months. However, with each passing month she was a bit more hopeful and became more and more excited.

    Veciana and Simeon are an incredibly affectionate and sweet couple - a sentiment made even clearer by the fact that they have taken in and continue to care for the orphaned girl from their community in Burundi. They are so very excited to have a baby. Without your support, Veciana would not have discovered the source of her early pregnancy problems, or been able to repair the problem. You have made their happiness, and this healthy pregnancy, a reality.

    Your support directly impacts the lives of refugees in Uganda. On behalf of Veciana and Simeon, thank you! Please consider donating to continue others in need. Or share this story on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

  • Shipment draws First Lady, huge crowd, in Guatemala

    by Tyler Graf | May 11, 2016

    Speaking to a throng of onlookers in Uspantán, Guatemala, the country's First Lady Patricia Marroquin de Morales highlighted the urgent importance of medical supplies in rural Guatemala.

    They change lives.

    Morales, wife of newly elected Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales, was on hand April 28 to recognize the arrival of a new shipment of medical supplies. The contents of the 40-foot container will be dispersed among the health service facilities of this rugged and rural part of Guatemala and be used directly in the care of more than 65,000 people.

    Guatemala, first lady, April 2016

    The First Lady of Guatemala, Patricia Marroquin de Morales, speaks about the importance of Medical Teams International's shipment of medical supplies to the community of Uspantán.

    Your prayers and generous financial support will make the desperately needed dispersal of these medical supplies possible in Guatemala.

    Guatemala is undergoing a health care crisis.

    Señora Morales' presence underscored both the importance of the occasion and the heartfelt appreciation Guatemalans feel for your support. Roughly 70 percent of the people in this community live in poverty. Nonetheless, these people of limited means are expected to bring their own medical supplies to local clinics when they seek treatment.

    Clinics simply don't have enough supplies.

    Right now, Guatemala is undergoing a health care crisis. The national health care system is unable to afford to keep rural facilities fully stocked of medical supplies. The country's most vulnerable patients are bearing the brunt of this crisis.

    This shipment will go a long way toward easing the burden. It contained catheters, syringes, surgical packs, disposable gloves, a nebulizer and other essential items. 

    People of limited means are expected to bring their own medical supplies... clinics simply don't have enough supplies.

    Dr. Mario Petz, director of the national Hospital of Uspantán, said he greatly appreciated the donation and will make good use of the equipment.

    "I am extremely grateful to Medical Teams for this support provided to the National Hospital of Uspantán and centers of the municipality of Uspantán,” he said. “We are very pleased by the alliance that we have with them. The people who come to the hospital and health centers will be the direct beneficiaries of this donation"

    Guatemala, supplies, April2 016

    Equipment donated to the health services of Uspantán, Guatemala.

    These critical shipments are only made possible through the support of partners and volunteers around the world. A special thanks to Providence Health & Services for donating part of this shipment and their continued support of our programs in Guatemala. Also, from the bottom of our heart-- thank YOU for your continued support and compassion for those in need around the world.



    There are several ways to touch the lives of vulnerable people around the world. Do you feel called to empower people? Consider making a donation. Or send your blessings in prayer. To learn more about Medical Teams International's work in Guatemala, click here and read the stories of the lives changed by your generosity. 

     

  • Guest Post: Volunteers Bring Hope & Healing

    by Emily Crowe | May 06, 2016

    This post originally appeared on Bellevue Presbyterian Church's blog. Written by Ben Vendelin, Mobile Dental Program Manager at Medical Teams International.


    Medical_teams_international_mobile_dental_volunteers_van

    Roxanne was late for her appointment at the Mobile Dental Clinic stationed at a low-income housing facility on the Eastside. She was fatigued, stressed and concerned that she had missed her chance to be seen that day. For her, this was her only option and to lose it could mean months more of debilitating pain she had been dealing with for over a year now. She was late because she had been at the hospital that morning with her brother who had just been diagnosed with cancer. For most of us that would be a call to the dentist office to reschedule but when this is your only option you fit it in around a family emergency.

    These stories are uncomfortably commonplace at our Mobile Dental clinics but here is the good news…

    Medical_teams_international_mobile_dental_volunteersDr. Karr, who volunteers his time locally with MTI, leads dental missions overseas, was able to fit her in. About thirty minutes and a couple of extracted teeth later, Roxanne finally felt relief and had the highlight of an otherwise difficult day.

    The reality is children and adults from low-income families suffer from more dental decay and are less likely to receive treatment than those in higher income brackets. The situation is precipitated by high levels of poverty, coverage limitations of low-income insurance options, lack of insurance altogether and a shortage of accessible locations. Left untreated, dental problems lead to chronic pain, difficulty eating, speech problems and severe and debilitating health conditions. Healthy, pain free teeth and mouths increase confidence and can prepare patients for jobs and job searches.

    Volunteers like Dr. Karr and many others bring hope and healing to people such as Roxanne by partnering with Medical Teams International and their Mobile Dental Program. MTI has eleven fully equipped mobile dental clinics that travel throughout Oregon and Washington caring for patients. The clinics are in high demand and are regularly booked out several months. In order to care for these patients, we rely on dental professionals with hearts for those in need to come along side and make a lasting impact.

    If you are a dental professional there is a place for you. Dentists, hygienists and assistants regularly volunteer their talents around times that fit their schedules. We have people that volunteer from once a year to once a week and it all goes a long ways. We’ll have all the supplies and equipment you’ll need to be successful. Retired dentist? Washington has some incredible benefits for retired dentists who volunteer their time up to and including insurance coverage, license renewals and more at no cost.

    Roxanne could have easily moved on to the next thing in this demanding day but she wanted to express her thanks for Dr. Karr and the other dental professional volunteers who were there that day. With gauze in her mouth and a smile on her face she insisted that we shoot a video on our phone. “I’ve never experienced care this good. I am thankful. This makes my day better and I am very thankful for the dentists. I want them to know – thank you, thank you, thank you”.

    Never experienced care this good? How could that be?

    My guess is because it came as a gift wrapped in compassion and generosity on a really hard day.


    We are so blessed by the incredible volunteers, donors and staff who make our mission possible. Together, their support is making a real impact on lives around the world. On behalf of everyone we serve-- thank you!

    Want to get involved? We'd love to have you join the team! Volunteer, donate, or pray.