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Medical Teams Blog: Stories of boldly breaking barriers to health

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  • 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.

  • Empowering health in Nepal: Healing, growing, recovering.

    by Emily Crowe | Sep 20, 2016

    Indra and her grandson Saurav live in Chainpur, a rural village in the Dhading District of Nepal- an area that was at the epicenter of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the country in 2015. The area is still recovering from the quake, which left thousands of vulnerable people homeless, exposed to the elements, and without access to clean water or hygiene supplies.

    Indra and Saurav are slowly putting their lives back together. But, they wanted to do more -- they wanted to help others in their community, too. Together, the two worked to distribute hygiene kits throughout their community.

    Nepal_WASH_healthIndra, along with her fellow community members, has received special training about staying healthy as her country rebuilds from the earthquake. Thanks to this training, she recognizes the importance of the good hygiene. For Indra, helping her community heal has a personal connection: she became a widow when her husband died during the quake. Despite this tragedy, she's worked hard to serve as an inspiration and a catalyst to bring health to her community using tools and training from our teams.

    She's grateful for the kits that our teams distribute in her community to help women like Indra and their children stay healthy. Despite immense loss, she's an inspiring example of human resilience, and we're honored to serve women like her around the world. Thank you for helping Indra, her grandson, and her community achieve safer, healthier lives!

  • Notes from the field: Fleeing ISIS, seeking safety.

    by Emily Crowe | Sep 15, 2016

    There are thousands of refugees in Greece in need of help, of hope, and someone to care for them. One of many urgent needs is the lack of health care. And this need only increases as more refugees join the thousands in Greece unable to continue their journeys as the European borders have closed.

    Sharon Tissell, a Medical Teams International RN volunteer, shared stories with us from her time serving Syrian refugees this summer. Check out her other stories here: Live in Diavata | Helping Syrian refugees

    By Sharon Tissell, RN

    This camp is only about two months old and houses roughly 1,200 Syrian refugees who were stuck at the border when it closed to further immigration into Europe. The refugees are housed in voluminous canvas tents inside a large warehouse.

    Despite war and extreme loss, and an empty warehouse as a new "home," refugee children still find ways to be kids.

    Today we met Ahmed, 25, who came into the clinic for treatment for a torn ligament in his knee. While we treated him, we spoke to him about his journey out of Syria.

    When ISIS came to Kobani, he feared for his safety and made the difficult decision to leave Syria with his wife.

    They travelled to Turkey where they stayed for some time and where their first son was born in a refugee camp there. In a desperate search for a future for his family, he paid a "smuggler" to take the family across to Greece. The smuggler required 2,500 Euros to take them across the Aegean, and then charged them another 800 euros for life jackets.

    Searching for a better life for his family, Ahmed has risked his life, spent his fortune and now is at the mercy of those willing to assist in this crisis.
    Nurse Sharon meets with refugee patients.

    They have no options now and the discouragement is plain on his face. Searching for a better life for his family, Ahmed has risked his life, spent his fortune and now is at the mercy of those willing to assist in this crisis. I am so grateful that Medical Teams International can be here to give tangible support through medical care for Ahmed and his family.

    The harrowing journey began with 85 refugees on a small rubber boat. Ahmed feared for their lives until they were rescued by the coast patrols and taken into Greece. Their journey continued to the border into Macedonia, but when the border closed Ahmed and his family were returned to Greece and now wonder what their future will hold and what they should do next.

  • Jasmine: Seeking Relief for a Child

    by Sarah Austria | Sep 14, 2016

    Ask any adult who has experienced tooth pain to describe the feeling and you’ll likely see them wince and shake their head in memory. Now consider a child enduring that same pain. For young Jasmine and her family, it was a reality.

    Recently relocated from California to Oregon, the family was without dental insurance and unable to afford a dental visit. Jasmine complained that her teeth hurt.

    With nowhere to turn to ease his daughter's pain, a feeling of desperation was setting in for Jasmine’s father.

    Then he heard a commercial on the radio advertising a Medical Teams International Mobile Dental van.

    Untreated dental pain is an all too common complaint in the United States. Many turn to hospital emergency rooms seeking relief. In fact, an estimated 30% of emergency rooms visits would have been better served in a dental office.

    Jasmine’s father decided it was worth the 120-mile round trip for the chance that his daughter’s dental pain could be treated. The family arrived at Medical Teams International’s Mobile Dental van at 10am. They were last in the long line. Four hours later they were still waiting to be seen - but the clinic hours ended before their turn. Her father, as any father would, pleaded with staff for his daughter to be seen. Thankfully, the volunteer dentist was graciously able to see her.

    For those that don’t have access to dental care and in desperation visit hospital emergency rooms, the results are rarely successful. Emergency rooms are not equipped and staffed to handle dental care. And ER visits for dental pain are expensive - averaging $765. Thanks to your support, the average cost for a patient to visit the Medical Teams International Mobile Dental van is about $100.

    Jasmine was diagnosed with 8 cavities. Due to her young age and a fear of needles, the dentist chose to begin her treatment slowly, and fill just the 2 cavities that were causing her the most pain. But Jasmine will be able to finish her treatment - thanks to you. The Mobile Dental van manager gave Jasmine’s father a phone number to schedule the rest of his daughter’s dental care with another of Medical Teams International’s Mobile Dental vans - this time closer to their home.

    Jasmine’s father was incredibly grateful for the treatment Jasmine received that day - and the referral to care for the rest of her dental needs. Your support of Medical Teams International took away the dental pain of one little girl, and gave her father peace of mind.