Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • Rasha: Refugee, mother, health advocate

    by Emily Crowe | Jan 29, 2016

    Meet Rasha. She is a 22-year old Syrian refugee living in a refugee settlement in Lebanon. But, she's also a mother. And a niece. And someone who, despite everything, is using her time and skills to volunteer with Medical Teams International and help other refugees survive life in the camp.

    After escaping so much danger and heartache in Syria, refugee settlements are no guarantee of safety. Families that were previously leading average, middle-class lives are now trapped without enough food, money and only a thin tent protecting their children or elderly parents from freezing winter storms.

    Rasha, right, meets with local refugee women to provide medical care in the refugee settlement where they live.

    Trauma from the civil war-- and stress from a drastically new life-- have very real repercussions.

    One serious consequence? Stress-induced diabetes and hypertension. Mothers like Moamar, who struggle to find enough food to feed their children, become too exhausted to get out of bed. Girls like Amir become depressed, sick and withdrawn. Everyday tasks become impossibly difficult.

    Without money to get to a clinic-- let alone buy medicine-- dangerous symptoms go unchecked. 

    This would have been the case for Sarah, Rasha's aunt. But, thanks to you-- and Rasha's commitment and enthusiasm to be a community health leader-- Rasha now has the tools she needs to make a difference.

    When Sarah began feeling dizzy, constantly thirsty, and urgently needing to urinate throughout the night, Rasha immediately suspected what was wrong: Diabetes. She quickly brought her aunt to the Medical Teams International clinic for a diagnosis, where doctors confirmed Rasha's suspicions. Now, Sarah has access to crucial medicine and care that keeps her healthy. 

    Because of your support, Rasha was able to learn how to recognize and diagnose some of the most prominent diseases at the camp where she lives-- particularly diabetes and hypertension, silent dangers that can make the challenges of refugee life unbearable.

    Because of Rasha's knowledge and Sarah's willingness to listen-- and your support for life-changing programs like this-- doctors were able to detect Sarah's serious illness and give her the care she needs to stay healthy and safe.

    We are proud to have Rasha on the team. Want to help more people like Rasha and her aunt? Pray for hope and healing around the world. Share Rasha’s story on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Consider donating to provide medical supplies and care. 

  • A second chance at motherhood

    by Emily Crowe | Jan 27, 2016

    When her labor pains began, Louina knew it was time. After nine months, she would finally be able to hold her firstborn child. But, Louina faced an all-too common challenge for women in rural villages like hers: Miles from a hospital in rural Haiti, there were no trained medical professionals to help keep her and her child safe during childbirth.

    Louina was heartbroken.

    Thankfully, there were no complications and Louina safely delivered her beautiful child. However, Louina needed more to keep her baby safe. 

    Louina_mother_infant_help_HaitiShe didn't know about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding on her baby's development, or how vaccinations could protect her newborn from dangerous diseases. Tragically, her baby died before his first birthday.

    Louina was heartbroken.

    What could she do differently, and why had her child died? Without education or support, Louina had no way to know. Sadly, millions of mothers find themselves in situations just like Louina’s every year.

    Soon, Louina was pregnant once again. Louina now knew from experience that her child’s safe birth was not assured. But, this time, she also knew something else.

    This time, when her labor began, Louina knew she wasn't alone.

    Thanks to you, compassionate locals in her community have been given the tools to make a change: With your support, several of Louina’s neighbors have now been trained as traditional birth attendants—receiving the tools and training to help mothers delivery safely at home, and who can serve as trusted advocates for crucial measures like vaccinations and exclusive breastfeeding of infants.

    This time, when her labor began, Louina knew she wasn't alone.

    Even though she was miles from a hospital, trained birth attendants were there to make sure neither of them suffered from dangerous complications during birth. They also worked with Louina to make sure her baby was vaccinated and properly fed. This time, her beautiful daughter, Claudia, was protected from the diseases that had taken her sibling's life.

    Today, thanks to you, Claudia is one year old. With your compassion and the hard work of local birth attendants, Louina couldn’t be more proud of her beautiful, healthy little girl.

    You made a direct impact on Claudia and Louina's lives. Want to get more involved? Learn more about our work in Haiti, and spread the word about the power of your impact on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  • Followed by death, finding life

    by Emily Crowe | Jan 22, 2016

    She had been so afraid of the rebels. Now, miles from the fighting, she was terrified for another reason: Elisa, her son's, small, dry cough had quickly become something much worse. His chest hurt so much that he cried from the pain. His face burned with fever. Becoming weaker and weaker, he couldn't even walk when they reached Uganda.

    Was it his heart? His chest? Something else? Elisa's mother was so afraid... without help, she was sure her little boy would die.

    When fighting started near their home, Elisa's mom knew it was too dangerous to stay. But now he was too weak to walk, and cried from the pain in his chest.

    Not weeks before, they had a comfortable home and normal life in Burundi. Elisa went to school, played and had friends. But bloody civil conflict raged around them and when the fighting started near their home, she knew it was too dangerous to stay. They quickly abandoned everything they called "home" and fled to safety in Uganda.

    But now, it seemed that death had followed them. Without a home, how could she get help for her son? Who would she ask? Where could she find a doctor? Above all-- how could she keep her son from dying?

    Then, she finally received the answers her son desperately needed.

    Arriving at the refugee settlement in Uganda, Medical Teams International staff stationed at the refugee reception center quickly noticed that something was seriously wrong with Elisa. Immediately, they transported him to the local hospital-- a hospital run by Medical Teams International, and that you help supply with critical medical supplies.

    It seemed death had followed them.

    Doctors discovered a dangerous buildup of fluid from an infection in little Elisa's lungs, and knew something had to be done-- and quickly.

    Immediately, they gave Elisa antibiotics, giving his body the power it needed to fight the infection. Working quickly, they drained the fluid from his lungs. Soon, his breathing finally started improving.

    Soon, Elisa will be strong enough to begin attending school at the settlement.

    Still weak after such a close brush with death, Elisa clearly needed follow-up care to survive. Working alongside his family, we made sure Elisa received the follow up care he needed, bringing him highly-nutritious food and transporting him to and from his appointments-- a challenge that can be hugely difficult for refugees with little to no source of income.

    Now, he is strong and healthy enough to run and play with the other children

    After a month of care, Elisa was finally strong enough to walk. Now, he is strong and healthy enough to run and play with the other children in the refugee settlement. Soon, he will be strong enough to begin attending school at the settlement.

    Finally, after fleeing violence, losing their home, and many, many prayers, his mother knows her son is safe.

    Join the team to help vulnerable people like Elisa all around the world. Pray for hope and healing. Share Elisa's story on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Consider donating to provide medical supplies and care. On behalf of Elisa and his mother, thank you for your beautiful compassion and love.  


  • Syrian Crisis 101: The Facts

    by Emily Crowe | Jan 20, 2016

    Violence has forced millions from their homes in Syria. In a war that's taken hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions from their homes, traumatized refugees are desperate for medical care and support.

    Did you know? Over 50% of Syrian refugees are children. One way you can help: get informed and be a voice for those in need during this crisis. 

    Many families who've escaped the bloody war face a dangerous decision: struggle to survive in refugee camps or settlements, or risk their lives on the tough journey across Europe in search of safe, new lives.

    Syrians need our help, and YOU are making a positive impact on families in desperate need.

    Syrian_refugee_kit_packing_shipmentRight now, volunteers are packing thousands of donated refugee kits that will help families on harrowing journeys stay safe and healthy. Volunteer and staff doctors are providing urgently-needed medical and dental care for children in refugee settlements in Lebanon. Mothers are receiving support to keep their infants safe on long journeys with nothing but the few clothes and supplies they can carry on their backs.

    However, the need continues to grow. In some places, local infrastructure is straining under growing, desperate needs. Without our support, the refugee situation has the potential of destabilizing entire regions and countries.

    Get informed and be a voice for those in need.

    Syrian_refugee_medical_relief_Lebanon_settlementHere are a few quick facts about this crisis and inspiring stories of people you're helping:

    Many families who've escaped the bloody war face a dangerous decision: struggle to survive in refugee camps or settlements, or risk their lives on the tough journey across Europe in search of safe, new lives.
    Many families who've escaped the bloody war face a dangerous decision: struggle to survive in refugee camps or settlements, or risk their lives on the tough journey across Europe in search of safe, new live

    How can you help?

    • Donate and bring relief to Syrian refugee families in desperate need. 
    • Volunteer and help people in need during crises around the world-- bringing help where, and when, it's in critical need.
    • Share these stories & the impact of your support on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.
    • Pray that children in vulnerable communities around the world will stay healthy and safe.  
  • A Nightmarish Journey from Syria to Greece

    by Katie Carroll | Jan 14, 2016

    Right now in Greece, gifts from donors like you are in action, helping so many refugees who came there for asylum from the terrors of war. Today we share with you the story of one of these people – a young woman named Nermim whose family received refugee health and hygiene kits, thanks to donors like you.

    When the horrors of the brutal conflict in Syria became too dangerous for Nermim and her family, her husband escaped to the Netherlands to jumpstart a new life for them. When he arrived safely, Nermim, her son and her aunt soon followed.

    The journey almost cost them their lives.

    Nermim with her son & aunt in Greece. She suffers from stress-related sores.

    Every refugee has their own unique story of struggle, heartbreak and danger. Nermim's is especially unsual - and terrifying.

    Like thousands of other refugees, Nermim and her son and aunt fled to Turkey to risk the short but perilous journey across the Aegean Sea to Greece. On the day they departed, Nermim and her family joined dozens of other Syrian refugees in a small rubber boat.

    While still in Turkish waters, masked men on jet skis attacked, smashing the boat with sticks. People screamed. The hijackers bashed the boat’s driver with sticks. The rubber vessel rocked violently as the hijackers attempted to capsize it into the deadly sea.

    Terrified, Nermim ducked down, closed her eyes and prayed. She thought she would die and was terrified for what would happen to her son.

    The attackers finally left. No one was killed, but everyone on the boat was soaked, freezing and traumatized. While it’s unclear why, there have been reports in recent months of masked men attacking refugee boats. “God saved us,” Nermim said.

    "God saved us."

    When the family eventually came ashore in Greece, they were ice-cold, wet and filthy. What little belongings they had washed away in the attack.

    Thankfully, donors like you sent refugee health and hygiene kits to care for Nermim and her son. They received the kits when they arrived in Greece. If not for the kits, Nermim’s family would literally have nothing but the soaking clothes on their backs. 

    Because of the care kits donors like you sent, Nermim feels safe. She says it has provided a great comfort after a terrifying ordeal.

    While Nermim is haunted by exposing her son to the danger of the attackers and the sea, she knows she is making the right decision. If they’d stayed in Syria, they would be risking death on a daily basis.

    Nermim and her family now must wait in Greece to be processed and to continue on to the Netherlands. The conditions are unimaginable. Refugees must wait on the islands for their registration process to be complete. The timing of this can greatly vary per island and per situation, from two days to up to two weeks. The intake areas are dirty, busy, disorderly and cramped. Refugee kits help them stay healthy, hygienic and safe.

    Your gift is truly a blessing - sending health and hope to people just like Nermim and her family during such a profoundly dark time.

    You can make a difference for people in need around the world:

    • Please pray for comfort and relief for those in need, especially refugee families facing perilous journeys.
    • Share Nermim's story on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
    • Donate and make an impact on families around the world-- giving them care when they desperately need it.