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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • Lebanon Story: Badra's Broken Heart

    by Tyler Graf | Jun 05, 2015


    Badra, Lebanon, refugee, April 2015

    Three years ago, Badra fled Syria for Lebanon with her damaged heart in tow.

    Despite her medical condition, she had to leave her home country. She would have died otherwise. War was breaking out all around her, and people were dying. The dead included two of her nephews who were killed by snipers.

    She and her family found their way to Lebanon, where they live a very modest lifestyle. It was in Lebanon where her medical condition worsened. Her heart was giving out. A year and a half ago she had heart bypass surgery, but it failed. Doctors had to perform open heart surgery to fix it. She has a scar running down her sternum as a reminder of the operation.

    Badra's chest scar, Lebanon, refugees, April 2015
    Badra reveals the scar left from her heart surgery.

    Badra’s damaged heart weakened a once-strong and independent woman, a matriarch of five daughters and 30 grand kids. While she required regular medical attention, it was expensive or otherwise difficult to obtain in Lebanon. Early on, nongovernmental organizations refused to help Badra because she did not live in one of the refugee settlements.

    Bad news like that is a part of daily life as a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon. But then, one day, good news arrived.

    Badra heard that Medical Teams International was coming to a nearby settlement. She thought the health workers there could help with her diabetes and hypertension. At MTI’s mobile clinic, doctors tested Badra’s blood sugar and took her blood pressure. They also supplied her with medicine to keep her ailments in check.

    Badra's condition has improved, thanks to your gifts, support and prayers. Because of you donations, Badra can go to the MTI clinic every month when it comes to the nearby settlement. Badra said she believes she is now receiving proper care, adding that MTI is "providing the right medications.”

    Thank you for making a difference in this woman's life, and in the lives of countless other Syrian refugees. To contribute to the efforts, donate today.

  • Mobile Dental: Hailey Avoids Painful Abscess

    by Tyler Graf | Jun 04, 2015

    Hailey 2 Oak Grove Mobile Dental

    Left unchecked, a simple cavity can lead to excruciating pain, especially for a little girl like 6-year-old Hailey. 

    We met the first grader at Oak Grove Elementary School in the North Clackamas School District. She was silently sitting in the dentist's chair at a Medical Teams International Mobile Dental clinic, as dental students from Oregon Health & Science University worked on her teeth. 

    She'd come to the clinic because of a cavity. Her family does not have any form of dental insurance, so the clinic was Hailey's best opportunity to have her teeth fixed before a more serious problem arose. It just so happened that one was looming on the horizon.

    The cavity was punching a nerve. While the pain had not yet become unmanageable, Hailey said it was uncomfortable. She said it was a distraction knowing the cavity was there. It could be difficult to concentrate, the shy girl said.

    A cavity like that can also become a serious medical issue. Without treatment, it becomes abscessed. This is a painful infection at the root of the teeth. Treatment options for abscessed teeth can be expensive, and the procedures are often uncomfortable, necessitating extractions and incisions to drain swollen gums. 

    But thanks to your financial support of the Mobile Dental Program and its school-based outreach, youth like Hailey don't have to worry about developing painful and expensive oral decay. Your gifts lessened the pain in this girl's life.

    When she hopped down from the dentist's chair, she beamed a toothy -- and somewhat toothless -- smile and declared that she felt better. She then picked up an MTI-supplied bag filled with dental supplies, like floss and a toothbrush. She'll be using the goodies to keep her teeth healthy and happy.

    Thank you for your gifts to MTI's Mobile Dental Program. To support it further, donate today.
  • Guatemala Success Story: Little Jesus Regains Health

    by Tyler Graf | Jun 03, 2015

    Jesus Mendez Guatemala malnourished

    Jesus is a 2-year-old toddler who lives in the Soch village of Guatemala, in the rural municipality of Chicaman. Last year, he became sick with a cough and rapid breathing. His hands and feet were also swollen, but the cause of that problem was not immediately known.

    As Jesus’ cough worsened, his parents sought help. A Medical Teams International nurse evaluated the child and decided to transfer him to a larger hospital. The boy showed symptoms of a condition that could be deadly if left unchecked.

    At the hospital, Jesus was diagnosed with moderate malnutrition and pneumonia. He was in bad shape – weak and wheezing and swollen. He stayed at the hospital for a month receiving treatment. When he went home, the little boy underwent a 12-day MTI medical workshop to heal further. A second MTI-coordinated workshop, attended by Jesus’ mother Rosalina, emphasized nutrition. In time Jesus regained weight and became healthy again. At the second workshop, Rosalina learned about proper feeding techniques to prevent little Jesus from becoming malnourished again.

    Your contributions made it possible for Jesus and his family to have the resources necessary for doctors to be able to recognize, diagnose and treat his serious medical condition. Thank you for demonstrating the love of Christ to this child. Jesus’ parents say they are grateful to God for the work being done in their community.

    We're happy to report that a year after Jesus' medical scare, he's healthy and going strong.
  • Nepal Update: A Nepalese Woman's Close Call

    by Tyler Graf | May 29, 2015


    Enter any village in Nepal, and you’ll find amazing stories of survival.

    We recently met a young woman high atop a hot, dusty Nepali mountain in the district of Dhading, waiting in a queue for water trickling from a hillside spigot. The young mother was named Suraz, and she stood patiently with her empty jug.


    Suraz, blue pants, Nepal

    Suraz, center in turquoise pants, had a close call while at a communal water pipe the day the Nepal earthquake struck.

    As she waited, she detailed the harrowing story of what happened to her and her family when the magnitude-7.9 earthquake began rumbling through the mountains.

    “The day the quake came, I was sitting by the water pipe with my two children, ages 2 and 4, waiting my turn to fill my water containers,” she said. “My 6-month-old baby was sleeping in our house. Then the earthquake hit. I held on to my children but was so afraid for my baby in the house. When the earthquake was over, I saw all the houses fallen down and destroyed in a glimpse.”   

    The Dhading District was at the epicenter of the massive quake, so Suraz felt the full force of the earth shaking underfoot. By the time the ground came to a rest, Suraz was frantic, she said.

    Her mind shifted to the worst-case scenario: Her infant.

    She raced back home, only to find it collapsed. Her baby, she thought. What happened to her baby?

    That’s when a blessing happened. Suraz met her mother-in-law walking down a dirt road, carrying her unharmed baby. The mother-in-law had saved the baby from certain death. The family is displaced but otherwise unharmed.

    Still, there’s much hard work to be performed in the village and throughout Nepal. Doing it will ensure that Suraz, her baby and the rest of her children stay healthy.

    Your donations are making a difference in the lives of women like Suraz. They will continue to do so. The massive earthquake that wreaked havoc throughout Nepal killed more than 8,600 and injured another 21,433. The extent of the damage is breathtaking. In the hardest-hit areas, like Dhading, there’s a lack of food and potable water. Health clinics were among the buildings either seriously damaged or completely leveled, further disrupting the ability to provide health care to mothers and children.

    MTI continues to assess the medical needs of these badly affected areas. Along with in-country partners, MTI plans to provide infant and maternal health care, with an emphasis on hygiene, to some of the worst-hit areas.

    For women like Suraz, who lost everything but her family, the recovery will be hard. The medical needs will be plenty. Thank you again for your generous gifts, which will aid those whose lives have been uprooted.

  • Lebanon Success Story: Life Improves for Najwa, Her Kids

    by Tyler Graf | May 27, 2015

     
    At first, Najwa thought the refugee settlement was a horrible place. Muddy, dirty, lacking latrines – it was a far cry from the middle class life she once knew.

    Displaced by fighting in her home country of Syria, Najwa and her family escaped to Lebanon, seeking safety at the Bekaa Valley refugee camp. Life in the camp was a nightmare in the beginning, with a sense of uncertainty hanging over even the simplest of life’s routines. Certain necessities, like food and water, rarely materialized in those early days. Najwa’s kids were so hungry that at one point they took to eating bugs.

    Syrian refugee looks into camera, April 2015

    Life for Najwa, a Syrian refugee, has improved since she and her family began living in a settlement in Lebanon.

    She and her family were among the first settled at the camp three years ago. Life there was hardest during those first few months. But as more refugees arrived, so too did more services. The scale and magnitude of the refugees’ plight came into focus, and the international community responded. Now life at the camp is tolerable, even if it remains muddy, unsanitary and uncertain.

    One thing is changing: Najwa and he kids are receiving the medical care they need to live without pain.

    Because of your gifts, Najwa and her seven children have received medical and dental care. Life at the camp is not nearly as bad as it once was, even though Najwa and her children suffer from medical conditions that require interventions. Still, life remains difficult. In her hometown of Edlib, she had a house. That's gone, turned to rubble. Now she sleeps in a small tent, surrounded by other refugees. Access to food, water and medicine remains hard to come by. 

    The whole family is in need of medical help.

    Najwa's daughter, Doaa, was in a terrible accident and now suffers from lung damage. Medical Teams International monitors her condition and has supplied her with an inhaler, which has improved her life. She can now breath without pain or discomfort. But she also has a hurt leg and has trouble walking. It was caused by a car accident. Najwa can't care for Dooa, so MTI has stepped in to help.

    Her children were in desperate need of dental care. Her second-oldest child, Abdulla had infected teeth. His teeth hurt so bad that he had trouble eating. He wisely gave up sweets because he felt pain whenever he ate them.

    Earlier this spring, MTI ran an awareness campaign educating children on the importance of brushing their teeth. A mobile dental clinic sponsored by MTI saw three of Najwa’s oldest children, including Adbulla.

    All of the kids were referred to a pediatric dentist. In America, kids are afraid to go to the dentist. In contrast, the Syrian children showed no signs of being ill at ease; they didn’t even know what a dentist was.

    Najwa is grateful for what she has received. “The services MTI is providing are really good," she said. Your donations are making a difference in the lives of Najwa, Dooa and the rest of her family.