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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • A foster mom's wish: A pain-free Christmas

    by Tyler Graf | Dec 21, 2015


    Hot or cold, crunchy or sweet, what should be pleasure-filled bites of Theresa's favorite foods are instead painful reminders of what she doesn't have. And once the pain starts, it doesn't stop.

    Like thousands of Oregonians, Theresa lacks access to dental care. She lives in semi-rural Oregon -- an unincorporated area called Eagle Creek, roughly 30 miles east of Portland -- where she fosters youth with disabilities. Good insurance, which would adequately cover her dental expenses, is too costly, Theresa says, and it's difficult to find a dentist who will accept what coverage she can cobble together. 

    She reckons it's been years since she last saw a dentist, and now she's feeling a sharp, piercing pain in her mouth. The pain is exacerbated when Theresa eats. Once it starts, the throbbing gains momentum, reaching unbearable levels. Often, Theresa has trouble sleeping because of the pain, and she has to take medication so she can doze off.

    She needs a dentist to extract a badly decayed tooth.

    Mobile Dental, Dec. 2015 - Keller (1)
    Theresa, a patient of the Mobile Dental Program, smiles as she awaits treatment earlier in the month outside Providence Medical Center in Portland, Ore. 

    "It's making me sick," she says, seated in a chair at a Mobile Dental Clinic at Providence Medical Center in Portland, Ore. 

    The pain makes it difficult for Theresa to concentrate, to focus on her foster children. And when she eats, each bite is taken with thoughtful care, a cautious chomp that could result in long-lasting discomfort. 

    But because of your powerful donations, Theresa has access to compassionate volunteer dental professionals. Your gifts to the Mobile Dental Program are making a lasting impact not just in Theresa's life, but the lives of those around her.

    And her wish is such a simple one. "I just hope it won't be painful anymore," Theresa said, cracking a smile. 

    As Theresa waited for the dental hygienist to start her work, Theresa looked around the clinic. "It's everything having this resource," she said.

    As Theresa exited the clinic, a smile plastered on her face despite a mouth packed with gauze, the pain-causing tooth removed, Theresa said she felt amazing. So amazing, in fact, she was going to spend the rest of the day Christmas shopping.

    After all, she has a couple of foster kids at home expecting presents..



    Thank you again for your support of MTI's Mobile Dental Program, which directly serves more than 20,000 patients each year in Oregon and Washington. Your donations have a profound, positive effect on people who would otherwise not have access to dental care -- considered the hidden health care crisis in America.

    Find out more about how you can make an impact on the life of someone like Theresa.

  • Keeping You Informed: Congress Agrees to Pass the IRA Charitable Rollover!

    by Katie Carroll | Dec 18, 2015

    As of December 15th, Congress has agreed to enact the IRA Charitable Rollover provision for the tax code. Further, the provision will be retroactive to January 1, 2015, and will now be a permanent provision.

    If you are age 70-1/2 or older, here are the expected details and benefits to you for tax year 2015:

    • You may give up to $100,000 from your IRAs directly to qualified charities such as Medical Teams International without having to pay income taxes on the funds.
    • The new law applies retroactively to charitable IRA distributions made previously in 2015, and any given through December 31.
    • IRA charitable rollovers will count toward your required minimum distribution (RMD).
    • IRA charitable rollovers will not be subject to the charitable giving limit of 50% of adjusted gross income.
    • If you don’t normally itemize deductions, this can give you an additional way to reduce tax.
    • Those who usually do itemize deductions may find additional tax benefits.

    Taking Action If you are age 70-1/2 or older, taking action and reaping the benefits is easy. Simply contact your IRA Custodian (usually the financial services company that manages your IRA) and let them know you wish to make a qualifying IRA Charitable Rollover gift. They will be able to handle the entire process for you.

    Once again: Make sure you discuss any IRA-related actions with your CPA, Financial or Professional Tax Advisor. Medical Teams International does not provide tax advice and encourages you to contact your professional tax advisor before acting.

    If you wish to discuss this further or would like more information from Medical Teams International, contact Doug Ruecker at (360)903-4416, or email Doug at druecker@medicalteams.org

  • Happy Holidays: Smiles from around the world!

    by Emily Crowe | Dec 17, 2015

    Your support does incredible things. You provide healing hands for women who would otherwise die during a complicated birth. You teach children the importance of sanitation and a safe home. You listen to refugee mothers struggling to keep hope after witnessing the horrors of war. You bring healing and safety to families around the world-- truly putting your faith into action.

    It is making a difference for so many people.

    A joyful heart is good medicine. -Proverbs 17:22

    This holiday season, we're honored to be putting your gifts into action in the field. Please take a moment and meet some of the incredible people from around the world who are impacted by your support:

    Girl_smiling_uganda
    A girl in southern Uganda shares a friendly smile. Your support provides medical care for thousands of refugees in Uganda, bringing health and healing to so many.

    Alaa_lebanon_syrian_refugee
    Alaa, a young Syrian refugee, shares her heartwarming smile. You've helped her family survive in the ever-more-desperate situation at their refugee settlement in Lebanon.

    Myanmar_woman
    A woman with traditional face paint in Myanmar. Not only did you help this nation recover after a year of deadly monsoons and flooding, but you're strengthening the nation's community health after years of closure.

    Guatemala_girl
    A young Guatemalan girl shares a shy smile with volunteers and staff during a community health trip to rural Guatemala.

    Girl_outside_tent_Lebanon
    Despite increasingly desperate situations in the refugee settlements, this young Syrian refugee shares an adorable smile.

    Haiti_smiles_mother_child
    A mother and child share a sweet moment in Haiti, where you provide vital care to keep families safe and healthy.

    elderly_woman_uganda
    An elderly woman shares a joyful smile in Uganda.

    elderly_woman_uganda
    Volunteers are a the core of everything we are able to do-- here, volunteers help build latrines in a rural community in Guatemala.

    elderly_woman_uganda
    Hawa smiles at her beautiful, newborn twins in Liberia. You provided a birthing bed that kept her from having to suffer awful pain-- and risk dangerous infection-- from giving birth on the floor. Read her story.



    It's not too late to make a final impact during 2015: Right now, all gifts are doubled until Dec 31st, 2015. Donate today! You can also pray that those we serve stay safe and healthy this holiday season, and in the year to come.
  • Widowed, heartbroken and homeless: A Syrian Widow

    by Greta Jarvis | Dec 07, 2015

    Amina’s husband was determined to make a better life for his family. Several years ago, he made the difficult decision to leave behind his pregnant wife and travel from Syria to Greece in search of a safe, reliable way to make enough money to keep his family alive. Amina and her six children anxiously waited to hear from their beloved husband and father. He was not there for the birth of their seventh child. He was not there when the bombing started near their home. Finally, they learned the truth: he never made it to Greece. His boat sank during the treacherous journey across the Aegean Sea…she could never hear from him again.

    amina and family
    Meet Amina and her children. Their faces reveal the pain they carry from the war and loss of their father (and husband)-- but the burden they carry is lightened thanks to your support.

    Left alone to provide for six children and a newborn, Amina felt powerless and depressed. The violence of the war was escalating. Bombing and fighting surrounded her home. Her children could not even play outside with their friends. The stress and anxiety became too much for Amina to bear. The stress was so bad that she developed hypertension. Something had to change.

    Staying in Syria was not an option. Amina feared for the safety of herself and her family. Her heart broke over the thought of leaving her homeland behind, but the lives of her children were at stake.

    Amina’s brother connected her and her children with a bus driver who made frequent trips to Lebanon. The widowed mother of seven left behind her home, friends, belongings, culture, and country. Next stop, Camp 13: Lebanon.

    The people living in Camp 13 helped Amina build a tent for her family. She benefited from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees food voucher program. Despite canvas above their heads and food in their bellies, Amina’s family was suffering. They missed Syria. They missed their father. They missed the safety, comfort, and familiarity of their old lives.

    Amina’s sixteen-year-old son left for Jordan before the rest of the family departed for Lebanon. She does not know where he is now. Four of her children are not in school. They cannot read and do not know their numbers. There is a school nearby, but the $10 monthly fee per child is a financial impossibility for Amina. Her son, Yousif, began suffering from painful toothaches. Amina’s hypertension gave her incessant dizziness and head pain.

    Amidst the hopelessness and uncertainty of the refugee camp, Medical Teams International is there. Your warmhearted donations allow us to provide dental and medical care for Amina and her family. Yousif received a filling in his damaged tooth, and the entire family attended a two-hour dental awareness clinic at the camp. During these programs, Medical Teams International staff use games to teach children good eating habits and how to brush their teeth. Amina receives medication for her high blood pressure and monthly monitoring on her health. When she feels healthy, Amina can better provide and care for her children. She feels empowered despite her otherwise hopeless situation: “God bless Medical Teams International. I am thankful for the care they are providing.”

    Please pray for Amina, her family, and the countless Syrian refugees like them. Share this story to give a voice to the voiceless on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you are able, consider donating to Medical Teams International to provide lifesaving dental and medical care to one of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

    Refugees around the globe need your help. You can make a difference. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.

  • Pregnant at 12, you empowered Dolores to change her community

    by Greta Jarvis | Dec 01, 2015

    Dolores was twelve years old when she first became pregnant. Her childhood in a small Guatemalan village suddenly came to an end. Not even a teenager-- she was now a mother. The father of her baby refused to marry her. They had another child together before Dolores reached her fourteenth birthday, and he abandoned the young mother of two for a woman soon after.

    Today, Dolores is twenty-four-years-old. She is unmarried with four children. Her children’s father still lives with the other woman, visiting only occasionally to bring some corn for his neglected second family. His absence and lack of support means that Dolores must work tirelessly to make ends meet.

    dolores childMeet Dolores (right), and one of her daughters. Your support empowered her to help her community and family, and gave her what she always wanted-- an education.

    To support her children, Dolores raises chickens, turkeys, and pigs. She harvests taro root to cook and sell at the market. Dolores loves her children dearly. She dreams that they will have happy and healthy lives. Her deepest desire is that they will receive an education – a precious opportunity that she herself never had.

    Dolores first learned about Medical Teams International when a team arrived in her community of Seritquiche, Guatemala (a program that's since moved to Senahu, Guatemala, another nearby village), to build 50 latrines. In Guatemala, waterborne diseases such as diarrhea are very real threats to the health and safety of many rural families. Dolores felt so happy to receive a latrine and knows that she will have “healthier children because they can have a clean safe place to go to the bathroom.”

    Medical Teams International immediately recognized Delores’ passion for her children and for her community. Although she has never attended school, the community respects her and considers her a leader. These qualities made her the perfect candidate for one of Medical Teams International’s mother counselors.

    Mother counselors receive health and hygiene training from local Medical Teams International staff. They are responsible for 10 families in their communities. They visit homes to monitor child health and teach other mothers important hygiene practices such as washing hands. At first, Dolores felt unsure about becoming a mother counselor. What an important job! Could she succeed even without a formal education?

    The community and Medical Teams International staff encouraged Dolores. She agreed to begin training to become a mother counselor and was so excited to receive an education that would improve the lives of her children and community! She feels so happy when she sees how Medical Teams International empowered her to make a difference. Dolores is confident: “People will see our lives are improving and others will want to follow.”

    There are so many capable, enthusiastic mothers like Dolores in Guatemala and all over the world! You have the incredible opportunity to provide them education and support, allowing them to create healthier families and communities.


    Please pray for the mothers and children around the world facing poverty, conflict and disaster. Share this story of hope with your friends and family on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you feel called, make a lifesaving donation to educate and empower families in the name of health. Thank you for making a difference. Your compassion and generosity change lives!