Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • Crippled in a refugee camp: One Syrian woman's journey

    by Emily Crowe | Dec 22, 2015

    “I am too old to dream. I just want to go back to Syria, my homeland.”

    Just three years ago, Foza had a home and farm that kept her happy and busy. She felt safe. She felt free.

    Then the bombs came. When her hometown, Homs, was destroyed, there were bombs everywhere. One of her relatives was killed. Her neighbor was killed. The bombs destroyed everything.

    After the attack, Foza fled with her family to the settlement camps in Lebanon. In 2012, when she arrived, the camp was a miserable place. Her home had been safe—the tent she now shared with relatives easily flooded, doing little too protect her from summer’s heat and winter’s freezing temperatures. Disease and hunger were so common, and everyone—even the children—were haunted by the awful war.

    She felt overwhelmed by stress, fear and depression. She didn’t understand how she was supposed to survive in this new life. She began suffering from dizziness and felt sick often. Everything felt difficult. She felt so miserable.

    Now crippled, Foza is confined to her tent in the refugee settlement. You support makes sure doctors are there to give her the treatment-- and compassion-- she needs.

    Then, one day, it got worse: Hit by a wave of dizziness, Foza fell to the floor. She was rushed to the hospital. There, she found out what was wrong: Low blood pressure, asthma and troubling leg problems, brought on by the fear and anxiety of the war and her new refugee life.

    Soon, she was no longer able to walk at all. Already feeling trapped by her refugee status, she couldn’t believe that she would also now be confined to the thin walls of her tent.

    Traveling to a clinic was next to impossible. However, with her health issues, it was vital that she receive frequent check-ups to make sure she was taking the right steps to keep her health in check.

    Thankfully, your support has made sure Foza is not alone.

    Every month, our doctor visits her tent in the refugee settlement in Lebanon to check in and make sure she is getting the care she needs to maintain her health. It can’t bring her mobility back, but it keeps her healthy—and serves as an important reminder that people care about her—her family, the doctor, and people like you who provide the care she needs to stay healthy.

    Foza has lost a lot: Her friends, her home, her mobility, have all been taken by war. She’s depressed by her disability and how much it’s limited her life. Although there is no treatment for her heartbreak, your support is a reminder that her life has value.

    You can make an impact on Syrian refugees this holiday:

    • Donate to Medical Teams International to help women like Badra-- and families around the world-- receive the care they need to survive. 
    • Build a refugee care kit and it will go directly to Syrian families trying to survive as they seek refuge in Europe.Use #MTIkits to spread the word! 
    • Pray that there will be peace in Syria and that vulnerable children and families will survive the winter months.
    • Spread the word on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.
  • Making the greatest sacrifice: Klym's story

    by User Not Found | Dec 22, 2015

    Klym’s mother felt her heart drop. She and her four-year-old son live in a region of eastern Ukraine. Here, innocent bystanders are often caught in the middle of violent clashes between rebels and Ukrainian forces. Today, she learned, rebels were attacking her precious son’s preschool. She was terror-stricken. What if he was trapped in the crossfire?

    klym_ukraine_childShe rushed to the preschool. She arrived to find her son afraid…but alive. Klym’s mother was desperate to get him home and away from the fighting.

     That’s when the fighting started again.

    Klym heard the deafening explosion of the bomb. He felt his mother running faster and her arms wrapping around his tiny body. They both fell to the ground. Silence.

    The bomb killed Klym’s mother instantly. The horrified child shook his mother. Her body had protected him, but his mother was gone.

    A neighbor found Klym crying next to his mother’s broken body and drove him to the nearest hospital. Serious injuries from the bombing still threatened to take his innocent young life.

    When Klym arrived at the hospital, the doctors were grateful to have the supplies and medicines they needed to safely treat Klym’s wounds—supplies provided by the compassionate supporters of Medical Teams International. Generous donations funded Klym’s crucial operations. Without this lifesaving care, Klym’s story would have a very different ending. At best, he would have suffered permanent nerve damage in his left arm. At worst, he would have died. Only time will heal the pain of losing his mother-- but at least now Klym is on the road to recovery.

    The support of people just like you saved Klym’s life. There are countless children around the world just like him who face disaster, conflict, and poverty every day. Please pray for hope and comfort in the midst of these unspeakable hardships. Share Klym’s story as a symbol of hope and encouragement. Consider making a donation to Medical Teams International.

    You strengthen and enable this lifesaving work. On behalf of Klym and all those touched by Medical Teams International, thank you.  

  • 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

  • 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:

    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, 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.

    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.

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

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

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

    An elderly woman shares a joyful smile in Uganda.

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

    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.