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Medical Teams Blog: Stories of boldly breaking barriers to health

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  • Life after the earthquake: Nepal

    by Tyler Graf | Oct 19, 2016

    In the villages that speckle the rugged Nepal terrain, life is hard on mothers and their young children. With opportunities for financial advancement severely limited, families rely on self-sufficiency, grit and determination.

    They build their own homes, grow their own food and often raise their own livestock.

    But many young mothers suffer from a lack of health care knowledge and limited access to primary health services. In the mountainous landscape of Nepal, where paved roads are nonexistent, even local health facilities are not easily accessible. Malnutrition is high in these areas, resulting in 21 percent of children being underweight. 

    That was before the massive 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck, crumpling crumpling buildings, caving in roads and killing thousands throughout Nepal. Life afterward brought more uncertainty and hardship for mothers living in these elevated communities. 

    Kunwor had given birth before the earthquake shook the countryside, in April 2015. She lives in the Dhading District, near the epicenter, an area that sustained heavy damage and nearly a thousand casualties during the quake. 

    When her baby was born, Kunwor was so nervous. Would her baby be healthy? Many of the young children in her rural community suffer from persistent ailments rooted in malnutrition and disease. Kunwor didn’t feel as if she had the proper knowledge to take care of her baby, so it was with a heavy heart that she worried about Kunwor.

    The village is incredibly remote, with no road access. The only way to reach the nearest city is to walk for two hours.

    Life after the earthquake only became harder. Thousands were left homeless, living in tents or under tarps. In this post-quake environment, Medical Teams International began working in the Dhading District, providing education and care to mothers and children.

    Nepal, Kunwor and her baby, Oct. 2016"I have learned how to carefully take care of my baby," Kunwor said.

    Kunwor began attending training sessions and following instructions on how to care for her baby. She learned how to make a low-cost, highly nutritious porridge to feed her baby The little baby's health began to improve, as did the other children in the community. Because of this, Kunwor knew the training sessions were helping.

    Inspired by what she'd learned, Kunwor vowed to be an agent of change in her village. She is now educating other mothers, teaching them what she has learned, while at the same time receiving further encouragement through Medical Teams' maternal and child health facilitators.

  • Hurricane Matthew: Pregnant, destroyed home, anxious.

    by User Not Found | Oct 12, 2016

    “Huge devastation” is how Dr. Joanne St. Louis described some of the regions in Haiti hit by Hurricane Matthew. She's Medical Teams International’s Haiti country director and on the ground responding to the disaster. Her team has been sharing updates from the field -- here's one about a young woman named Didine.

    When Hurricane Matthew hit Didine’s home, there was little she could do. Pregnant and home with her family, more than just her own life was at risk. At 4am, Hurricane Matthew literally blew the roof off of her home. As the walls of her home were stripped away by the vicious wind, she hid under her bed, trying desperately to keep herself and her unborn child safe until the worst of the storm had passed.

    Thankfully, they survived the storm. But the hurricane destroyed her home, her belongings, and left her injured. Pregnant and her home destroyed, she’s worried. With no health center in her hometown, she has no place to turn to receive care for her and her unborn child.

    Amidst all of this chaos thankfully our teams were able to provide basic health services and are working hard to bring health and relief to victims like Didine who have nowhere else to turn after the hurricane.  

    Pregnant and her home destroyed, she’s worried... she has no place to turn to receive care for her and her unborn child.

    Hurricane Matthew is the worst storm to hit Haiti in 50 years. With the estimated death toll estimated at 1,000 and raising, 15,000 displaced people, 3-5 million people affected, 1,855 flooded houses, and at least 2,000 children separated from their parents, Haiti is hurting.

    Didine and her community will need ongoing care that the local health infrastructure is incapable of meeting. Our teams have been working hard to improve healthcare in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, fighting cholera, addressing maternal & child health issues and supporting local partners, but the country has never fully recovered. With more people in need and infrastructure and health systems destroyed, many like Didine need your help.

    Shelter, food, and water are the biggest needs and cholera is a major worry . At least 13 people have died from the disease since the hurricane, as sewage and floodwaters mix, according to media reports. Disease continues to spread, people are constantly being found with injuries, clinics have been destroyed and functional hospitals are low on supplies. Get the latest updates & FAQ’s here >>

  • Hurricane Matthew Update: October 6, 2016

    by User Not Found | Oct 06, 2016

    Hurricane Matthew has left a destructive path in Haiti. With bridges collapsed, roads flooded, electric poles down, and cellular and internet communication limited, there are many in need. Get the latest FAQ's + updates here >>


    The hurricane left the Grand’Anse and Sud regions devastated. Rural homes, made from grass or mud, have been wiped out, and farms and harvests are gone. People are taking refuge in shelters where the need for food, safe water, and medical care are great and the risk of health concerns related to water and sanitation is high.


    The death toll is likely to keep rising as more affected rural areas are reached. Using intact airstrips in the southern peninsula will increase ability to reach communities in need.


    Our teams are responding. Communities are trying to seek safety and reach neighbors despite destroyed roads and flooding. Those who are able are crossing the river on other’s backs and tractors working in the river to make way. The water level continued to rise as the rain kept coming down. 

  • Hurricane Matthew Update: October 5, 2016

    by User Not Found | Oct 05, 2016

    Hurricane Matthew, the strongest hurricane to hit the Atlantic in nearly a decade, struck Haiti on Tuesday morning, October 4th. The United Nations is calling the storm the worst disaster to hit Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. Get the latest FAQ's + updates here >>

    Families are trapped with no access to safe water or food, and crucial food sources have been destroyed. Countless homes are flooded and transportation is impossible in some of the worst-hit areas. Our teams are responding.

    Key facts: 

    • Entire towns are evacuated & many schools, homes, and property are destroyed.
    • The main bridge connecting Port-au-Prince to the South has collapsed.
    • Food sources - livestock, gardens and food stores - have been swept away.
    • Cholera and other water borne diseases are spreading due to heavy rainfall.
    • People that couldn’t evacuate in time are injured and dying.
    • Communication is spotty because of damage and the death toll is likely to keep raising.


    What are the greatest health risks? Disease. Many affected areas were already experiencing cases of dangerous diseases, including cholera, Zika and dengue. Heavy rainfall, contaminated water sources and flooding will only make this worse.Haiti-flooding-disaster

    What are the greatest needs? Access to healthcare, safe hygiene and water sources and shelter are most critical.

    How many are affected? The storm is confirmed to have killed 25 people, but that number is expected to increase as more communications are possible. At least 10,000 people have been displaced, and more than 1.24 million people have been affected and are in need of assistance.

    How is Medical Teams International responding? Our Haiti-based team are working right now to assess the situation in all surrounding areas. Our Disaster Response team is closely monitoring the situation and have been deployed to assess and support the local team. Les Cayes was hit the hardest and Boën and Cruchus are experiencing flooding and other damage.

  • Resho: From Nurse to Refugee

    by User Not Found | Sep 21, 2016

    Imagine leaving your home and the life you know for something completely uncertain - and all the while nothing but tragedy and violence seem to follow.

    21 year old Resho, a Yazidi woman, was working as a nurse in her hometown in Iraq when she was captured by ISIS. In one fell swoop, her entire life was changed. Kidnapped, she suffered repeated sexual abuses. Thankfully, she managed to escape and return to her family.Greece-refugees-syria-resho

    However, this attack made it clear that they were not safe anymore. Resho and her family left everything behind to travel to Lesbos, eventually settling in a refugee center on the Greek mainland.

    The attacks on Resho left more than physical scars. After suffering unimaginable trauma, she and her family are now displaced and homeless. As a young professional woman, and more importantly a human being, she was left with little to comfort her during this time. Shortly after her arrival at the refugee camp, it became too much to bear. Heartbreakingly, she turned to suicide to seek relief.

    Thankfully, her attempt was unsuccessful, and a volunteer nurse was there to provide compassionate medical care and emotional support. Learning of her former nursing experience, she was enlisted as a part time volunteer as a clinical assistant, providing supportive care when the clinic is not staffed.

    Although Resho does not know how much longer she will likely have to wait in the refugee camp before resettlement, she is emotionally and physically thriving with a renewed purpose in life. From nurse to refugee, she is now able to put her skills to good use once again and help other refugees like herself endure this difficult time.

    Your support of refugees in northern Greece not only provided necessary medical care to Resho, but also provided a place for her old life and skills to shine. Thanks to you, Resho has a renewed purpose in life.

    Your support is necessary to address illnesses and help others in need like Resho. Some refugees have been stuck in Greece for months, unable to pass farther into Europe and unwilling to go back home, where their lives would be in danger. With over 57,000 persons of concerns now in Greece, we thank you for your ongoing support.