Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • Ground Cockroaches? Delivering safe babies in Haiti

    by Emily Crowe | Jul 08, 2015

    Imagine you’re nine months pregnant. Now imagine you’re living in rural Haiti, hours from the nearest hospital with no reliable means of transportation. Suddenly, your water breaks. How would you feel?

    Not long ago, Benita Dorcé found herself in this exact situation.

    For women in rural communities across the world, pregnancy is an especially vulnerable time. Without the help of a well-trained birth attendant, infections and disasters are commonplace.


    Benita and her child, safely delivered, thanks to your care.

    In Haiti, only 24% of births are attended by a skilled birth attendant. In the US, this figure is 99%. Newborn babies are more likely to die in Haiti than in any other country in the Western Hemisphere. (UNICEF 2009)

    What’s one of the deadliest killers of newborn babies in Haiti? Tetanus.

    Many untrained attendants don’t know the importance of using sterilized tools or gloves. This puts people like Benita and her baby at great risk. A common practice in rural Haiti, many babies are born on the dirt, umbilical cords cut with non-sterile tools, and ground cockroaches applied to the severed skin.

    Without a skilled attendant, Benita and her baby would have been treated the same way.

    Thankfully, your donations and support are at work in Haiti. Our Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) classes teach safe delivery practices to local birth attendants. Rural attendants travel for miles from their homes to take classes—bringing expert-level skills to even the most remote communities.

    When Benita’s water broke miles from the nearest health clinic, our TBA was there to help her. Before training, the attendant would have followed unsafe practices and unknowingly exposed Benita and her baby to serious danger.

    Now, women like Benita can truly feel—and be—safer.

    Instead of cockroaches, Benita and her baby received quality delivery care. We are so grateful that we could be part of this amazing moment—thanks to you, this mother and child are safe and healthy.

    TBA gradutation haiti

    Class training of Traditional Birth Attendants in Haiti.

    Looking for more ways to help? Learn more about why community and maternal health is so important. Please pray that more women like Benita will have access to care. Finally, consider donating or volunteering with MTI to bring valuable health to people across the world.
  • Taxis, voodoo and tuberculosis: Gerard's story

    by Emily Crowe | Jun 30, 2015

    Gerard was desperate for a solution.

    When he started coughing, he hoped it would just clear up on its own. With seven children to take care of, this Haitian father had to work hard as a moto taxi driver to provide for his family. Being sick was simply not an option.

    Soon plagued by fevers, he began taking self-prescribed medications—with no relief.

    After two months, his family became worried that something was seriously wrong. Instead of taking him to a clinic, they were convinced something else was to blame: evil spirits.

    For $250—a lot of money in a country where the average income is less than $900—he met the local voodoo priest. His treatment? Gerard told us that for part of the treatment he had to strip down and stand naked in the street while being showered with water. 

    Unfortunately, it did not work. Soon, Gerard noticed something that made him worry: Not only did his symptoms persist, but his leg was swollen, too. Now, Gerard had seven mouths to feed, $250 fewer savings, and little hope for a cure.

    He was filled with fear for the future. If he was too sick to work, how could he take care of his family?

    Gerard, Haiti
    Gerard finally received the help he needed to get better, and can now serve as a community advocate to encourage others to seek proper treatment.

    Right when things seemed so desperate, a life-changing encounter happened—Gerard's neighbor, an MTI-trained Community Health Worker (CHW), arrived at the door.

    Trained to recognize and intervene in cases exactly like this, he suspected tuberculosis and knew Gerard needed immediate medical help. He pushed and pushed—and finally convinced Gerard to visit a doctor.

    Not far from town was an MTI-supported health clinic where he could get diagnosed. There, the CHW said, he may be able to find an answer. Desperate for relief, Gerard quickly sought help.

    He was soon transferred to a specialist who soon verified the true cause of his symptoms: Tuberculosis.

    While this was a frightening diagnosis, at least he now knew what was wrong. Finally, Gerard could begin proper treatment. 

    The Community Health Worker visited Gerard's home every week to make sure he was healing. We were thrilled when we finally heard good news: After months of suffering and even more months of treatment, Gerard is cured. Now this hardworking dad is back with his family, healthy and confident—empowered by the knowledge that, if he ever has another health crisis, there is a team nearby waiting to help.

    Your support gave Gerard the answers he needed when there seemed to be no solution. You trained the Community Health Worker who gave eyes and ears to local doctors and intervened—saving Gerard's life—when other methods failed. Your generosity allows us to provide support for hardworking, vulnerable people like Gerard—and we are so thankful.

    Looking for ways to help? Please pray that people like Gerard will continue to have access to potentially life-saving care. Also, consider donating or volunteering with MTI to bring valuable health to people across the world.

  • Philippines Success Story: Family Builds New Life Amid Temporary Homes

    by Tyler Graf | Jun 29, 2015

    Vilma and Rozaldo
    Rozaldo, his wife Vilma and their five children at the temporary house they now call home.

    When a devastating typhoon struck the Philippines in 2013, it uprooted the lives of Vilma, her husband Rozaldo and their five children. The family lost its home and its ability to make an income to the super storm.

    Life went from mundane to chaotic in a flash. It became very hard. There was no place to live and no place to work.

    Following the typhoon, the family and others like them spent two months building small shelters by the seashore. Because of their proximity to the water, these structures were quickly deemed unsuitable for habitation. If another storm swung through the Philippines' eastern shores, these buildings would be the first to go.

    The family was eventually relocated to one of several transitional shelters built on high ground. The shelters are sponsored by Medical Teams International and run by Operation Compassion Philippines.

    The temporary structures are built above he floodplain and provide some amenities, including space to plant gardens.

    At first, Vilma and Rozaldo found it hard to adjust their day-to-day lives while living at the house. The comforts of home had been permanently lost. There was pain in the constant reminder that they were not at their longtime home, where they had made all their happy memories.

    But those feelings soon disappeared, the couple said. After a month, they became accustomed to their new way of life. Among the transitional homes, made of sturdy interwoven bamboo, there are also small markets – known as sari-saris – where people work and buy household items. The family also has a backyard garden, and they are learning how to grow their own vegetables.  

    Vilma, Rozaldo and their children are also not alone. Their temporary house is located in a cluster of many similar homes, occupied by other victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

    The outpouring of financial and prayerful support during the aftermath the emergency set the groundwork for this innovative community to take shape. Vilma and Rozaldo now have the opportunity to rebuild their lives, and the lives of their children. Thank you for being there for them and giving them the opportunity to recapture the independence they felt before the typhoon.

    The couple said they can only express their utmost gratitude to the people who never forgot about them and helped them along the path of recovery and rebuilding. "Now, we are assured that we can sleep well and safe, away from the dangers of living close to the sea," they said.
  • Guatemala Success Story: Don Eduardo Turns His Life Around

    by Tyler Graf | Jun 25, 2015

    MTI Volunteers visit a Guatemalan village
    Medical Teams International volunteers greet villagers in Guatemala. Volunteers provide health services and community health training in rural areas of the country.

    Don Eduardo felt powerless. Despite being a well-respected religious leader in a small municipality of Guatemala, he drank heavily and abused his family.

    In drunk anger, he would beat his wife. The abuse didn’t stop there. The entire family suffered, either physically or emotionally. Over time, they lost respect for the man who had, at one time, garnered enormous trust in his community, serving both as the deputy mayor and as a religious leader. He’d lost his way. His health, and the health of those around him, suffered.

    He knew he had to change his ways to regain the trust of his community and be the leader he knew in his heart he was. His health depended on it, too.

    Your generous support spanned a continent and found its way to Don Eduardo’s village. It had an immeasurable impact on the man, his family and his community.

    Don Eduardo recalls meeting with Medical Teams International volunteers in 2013, when they came to his village. During that visit, he learned of MTI’s local health programs and its mission to demonstrate the love of Christ to people affected by disaster, conflict and poverty.

    He decided to give the volunteers a chance. That day, Don Eduardo’s life changed.

    Although he had lingering doubts, he attended an MTI training session. It was inspiring. He kept returning to learn more about how to implement sustainable health practices. And by taking a class called “Transformational Development,” he was able to turn his life around. He discovered how to become a powerful force of change within his community and for his family. He learned that through his own actions, he could become a community health evangelist.

    He is thankful and very appreciative for MTI’s teachings, which have helped him realize the importance and meaning of life. He is thankful for the strong unity he has built with other religious leaders, and for how they have collectively demonstrated a spiritual and holistic approach to health care.

    He has also rekindled his relationship with his family by stopping his hard-drinking ways.

    “Thanks be to God and MTI for giving me the opportunity to participate in these training sessions as well as for providing me with the knowledge and skills to support families in the community,” Don Eduardo said.

    Your generous donations make these personal transformations possible. They turn lives around by supplying health care and knowledge to the world’s vulnerable people. 

  • Saving young lives: Nepal kits in action

    by Emily Crowe | Jun 23, 2015

    Are things like water purifiers important? For infants like Proban, they can be life-saving.

    In the last 60 seconds, 12 children under the age of five died—most from preventable diseases. Many of these deadly diseases, like diarrhea, are caused simply by poor sanitation.

    Without your help, Proban, a bubbly, 7-month-old baby from Dohla, Nepal, could have become one of these 12.

    After the earthquake, Proban and his mother, Kumari, were left completely homeless. Frightened, vulnerable, and their home a pile of rubble, they were forced to move into a small tent. Now monsoon season, little Proban and his mother have only a thin tent wall protecting them from vicious flooding and rainstorms.

    7-month-old Proban and his mother in Dohla, Nepal.

    This is more than a discomfort: Inadequate shelter can result in the deadly spread of otherwise preventable diseases—it’s hard to stay dry, and clean water can be hard to come by.

    Because of this, your donations traveled to Nepal to provide mothers with hygiene kits. In partnership with Shanti Nepal, 330 families received kits in just one month. Filled with supplies like oral rehydration solution, water buckets, and—of course—water purifiers, these kits provide an important layer of protection from preventable diseases.

    At the post, Proban’s mother received a kit and training from MTI. More than a collection of hygiene supplies, the kit is a way to keep her baby safe.

    Kumari, Proban, and all of us at MTI are so grateful for your support—for people who have lost so much, these kits are an important way to protect vulnerable, young lives.

    We were thrilled to see Proban’s smiling face. With safer hygiene, Proban’s chances of becoming one of the 12 children lost every minute are that much smaller.