Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • Widowed, heartbroken and homeless: A Syrian Widow

    by User Not Found | Dec 07, 2015

    Amina’s husband was determined to make a better life for his family. Several years ago, he made the difficult decision to leave behind his pregnant wife and travel from Syria to Greece in search of a safe, reliable way to make enough money to keep his family alive. Amina and her six children anxiously waited to hear from their beloved husband and father. He was not there for the birth of their seventh child. He was not there when the bombing started near their home. Finally, they learned the truth: he never made it to Greece. His boat sank during the treacherous journey across the Aegean Sea…she could never hear from him again.

    amina and family
    Meet Amina and her children. Their faces reveal the pain they carry from the war and loss of their father (and husband)-- but the burden they carry is lightened thanks to your support.

    Left alone to provide for six children and a newborn, Amina felt powerless and depressed. The violence of the war was escalating. Bombing and fighting surrounded her home. Her children could not even play outside with their friends. The stress and anxiety became too much for Amina to bear. The stress was so bad that she developed hypertension. Something had to change.

    Staying in Syria was not an option. Amina feared for the safety of herself and her family. Her heart broke over the thought of leaving her homeland behind, but the lives of her children were at stake.

    Amina’s brother connected her and her children with a bus driver who made frequent trips to Lebanon. The widowed mother of seven left behind her home, friends, belongings, culture, and country. Next stop, Camp 13: Lebanon.

    The people living in Camp 13 helped Amina build a tent for her family. She benefited from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees food voucher program. Despite canvas above their heads and food in their bellies, Amina’s family was suffering. They missed Syria. They missed their father. They missed the safety, comfort, and familiarity of their old lives.

    Amina’s sixteen-year-old son left for Jordan before the rest of the family departed for Lebanon. She does not know where he is now. Four of her children are not in school. They cannot read and do not know their numbers. There is a school nearby, but the $10 monthly fee per child is a financial impossibility for Amina. Her son, Yousif, began suffering from painful toothaches. Amina’s hypertension gave her incessant dizziness and head pain.

    Amidst the hopelessness and uncertainty of the refugee camp, Medical Teams International is there. Your warmhearted donations allow us to provide dental and medical care for Amina and her family. Yousif received a filling in his damaged tooth, and the entire family attended a two-hour dental awareness clinic at the camp. During these programs, Medical Teams International staff use games to teach children good eating habits and how to brush their teeth. Amina receives medication for her high blood pressure and monthly monitoring on her health. When she feels healthy, Amina can better provide and care for her children. She feels empowered despite her otherwise hopeless situation: “God bless Medical Teams International. I am thankful for the care they are providing.”

    Please pray for Amina, her family, and the countless Syrian refugees like them. Share this story to give a voice to the voiceless on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you are able, consider donating to Medical Teams International to provide lifesaving dental and medical care to one of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

    Refugees around the globe need your help. You can make a difference. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.

  • Pregnant at 12, you empowered Dolores to change her community

    by User Not Found | Dec 01, 2015

    Dolores was twelve years old when she first became pregnant. Her childhood in a small Guatemalan village suddenly came to an end. Not even a teenager-- she was now a mother. The father of her baby refused to marry her. They had another child together before Dolores reached her fourteenth birthday, and he abandoned the young mother of two for a woman soon after.

    Today, Dolores is twenty-four-years-old. She is unmarried with four children. Her children’s father still lives with the other woman, visiting only occasionally to bring some corn for his neglected second family. His absence and lack of support means that Dolores must work tirelessly to make ends meet.

    dolores childMeet Dolores (right), and one of her daughters. Your support empowered her to help her community and family, and gave her what she always wanted-- an education.

    To support her children, Dolores raises chickens, turkeys, and pigs. She harvests taro root to cook and sell at the market. Dolores loves her children dearly. She dreams that they will have happy and healthy lives. Her deepest desire is that they will receive an education – a precious opportunity that she herself never had.

    Dolores first learned about Medical Teams International when a team arrived in her community of Seritquiche, Guatemala (a program that's since moved to Senahu, Guatemala, another nearby village), to build 50 latrines. In Guatemala, waterborne diseases such as diarrhea are very real threats to the health and safety of many rural families. Dolores felt so happy to receive a latrine and knows that she will have “healthier children because they can have a clean safe place to go to the bathroom.”

    Medical Teams International immediately recognized Delores’ passion for her children and for her community. Although she has never attended school, the community respects her and considers her a leader. These qualities made her the perfect candidate for one of Medical Teams International’s mother counselors.

    Mother counselors receive health and hygiene training from local Medical Teams International staff. They are responsible for 10 families in their communities. They visit homes to monitor child health and teach other mothers important hygiene practices such as washing hands. At first, Dolores felt unsure about becoming a mother counselor. What an important job! Could she succeed even without a formal education?

    The community and Medical Teams International staff encouraged Dolores. She agreed to begin training to become a mother counselor and was so excited to receive an education that would improve the lives of her children and community! She feels so happy when she sees how Medical Teams International empowered her to make a difference. Dolores is confident: “People will see our lives are improving and others will want to follow.”

    There are so many capable, enthusiastic mothers like Dolores in Guatemala and all over the world! You have the incredible opportunity to provide them education and support, allowing them to create healthier families and communities.

    Please pray for the mothers and children around the world facing poverty, conflict and disaster. Share this story of hope with your friends and family on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you feel called, make a lifesaving donation to educate and empower families in the name of health. Thank you for making a difference. Your compassion and generosity change lives!

  • When despair becomes deadly for a heartbroken Syrian mother

    by User Not Found | Nov 26, 2015

    Khadija felt her world was collapsing. Living in a Lebanese refugee camp, she was disconnected from her family, home, and culture in Syria. Overwhelmed by sadness and despair, she stopped taking her medicine. Without this treatment, she could die.

    When Khadija arrived in Camp 43 with her son a few months ago, she was not healthy. Her son knew that his mother needed a doctor. He feared for her life. Medical care and supplies are limited compared to the thousands of Syrian refugees who face sickness, hunger, and unrest daily. Fortunately, Khadija connected with Medical Teams International soon after coming to the camp. Our doctors discovered that she had severe diabetes. They closely monitored her disease and gave her the lifesaving medicine she needed. Khadija’s health began to improve.

    Meet Badra, another Syrian refugee who battled extreme heartbreak to survive. Thanks to your help, she is finally healing, too.

    After a few months, the doctors noticed that Khadija stopped coming to her regular appointments. Days turned into weeks, and Medical Teams International’s staff heard nothing from Khadija. Where was she? How would she get her medicine? Was she still alive?

    One day, the doctors received a call from Khadija’s desperate son: “My mother has no energy at all!” Doctors learned that the two refugees had lost contact with the rest of their family who lived in Aleppo, an area of Syria overwhelmed with violence. Khadija became anxious and depressed…she had not taken her medicine for two months. Her son was so scared. He loved his mother deeply and did not want to lose her. Finally, Khadija agreed to return to the medical clinic to speak with Medical Teams International’s doctors.   

    The doctors listened to Khadija explain how much she missed her family. She was afraid for their safety. She did not know what to do. Medical Teams International’s staff didn’t just give Khadija medical advice—they listened. They reminded her that without her medication, she would die and leave behind her son. It took some time, but Khadija eventually decided that she must continue her medical treatment. She wanted to stay healthy to take care of her son.

    Khadija finally agreed to receive a check-up from Dr. Ahmad, a Medical Teams International-affiliated doctor. He provided her with medications that would save her life. This time, Khadija took her medicine.

    You can make an impact on Syrian refugees this holiday: Build a refugee care kit and it will go directly to Syrian families trying to survive as they seek refuge in Europe. Pray that there will be peace in Syria and that vulnerable children and families will survive the winter months. Spread the word on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and use #MTIkits!

  • Action or Inaction: What Will Your Legacy Be?

    by Katie Carroll | Nov 25, 2015

    This post is unedited and republished with permission from

    by Roger Sandberg

    My great grandfather left his home to help refugees get back to theirs. How will you be remembered?

    On January 25, 1919, a group of young men sailed from New York to Beirut, Lebanon on a ship called Pensacola. Following the devastating Armenian genocide (1915-1918), these young men left their homes to live and work among the refugees and displaced people of Lebanon and Syria. Among them was a man named Ezra Deter.

     Ezra Deter. Image courtesy of the author.

    A conscientious objector to World War I, Ezra dedicated many years of his life to the refugees of modern day Lebanon and Syria. He spent his days talking with, working with, and in service to refugees. Relief organizations at the time set up refugee camps, clinics, orphanages, and vocational training facilities. They distributed bread and soup, blankets and clothing, medical and hygiene supplies, and were instrumental in the release of Armenian girls from Turkish harems.

    On a brisk night, March 20, 1921, Ezra sat in a small room in Beirut and wrote the following in his journal: Really, I can’t see a very good future for Syria unless different methods are used in the promotion for development.

    Almost 100 years later, I sit in a small room in Beirut and tap this sentence out on my keyboard: Really, I can’t see a very good future for Syria unless different methods are used in the promotion for peace.

    “He left the comfort of his home to help others get back to theirs.”

    Ezra Deter was my great grandfather, a man with a deep legacy of love. I never met him, but feel as if I know him. Recently, I visited a refugee camp in Zahle, a town east of Beirut. My great grandfather worked in Zahle. He wrote about it in his journals, letters, and telegrams, all of which now rest on a bookshelf in my home. I have been to Lebanon before and read his journals in the exact locations of their writing.

    Today, I work with Medical Teams International (MTI). MTI is working in Lebanon and Greece with refugees from Syria. The work of non-government organizations (NGOs) and relief agencies is not so different as it was 100 years ago, aside from some obvious differences. My journey via plane from Portland, Oregon took less than 24 hours. Ezra’s journey via boat from New York took 24 days.

    As a young man, my great-grandfather had a choice. We all do. In the comfort of his home in Illinois, he heard about the Armenians, a group of people being forced from their homes, many of them dying of starvation, many of them murdered. I can imagine the internal wrestling that he went through regarding the genocide of a people so far away from him.

    It was a time of war, both in Ezra’s heart and in the world at large. At times such as this, some may say there are only two options: fight or flight. Ezra saw a third one: love. He left the comfort of his home to help others get back to theirs.

    Bilbo Baggins, in The Hobbit, says it best, “I miss my books, and my armchair, and my garden. See that’s where I belong, that’s home. That’s why I came back . . . ’cause you don’t have one, a home. It was taken from you. But I will help you get it back if I can.”

    “Your action or inaction will be a legacy.”

    This week Americans will undoubtedly gather with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving. As you gather around your table, talk about what is happening in Syria. Say out loud that there are those who do not have a home, safety, or a table full of food. Pray for Syria. Pray that you may find a way to love.

    When I return home this week to my books, my armchair, my garden, and my table full of food, I will gather my children, and with my wife we will pray for Syria. We will pray for those who have been uprooted from their homes. We will talk about ways to love Syrians. We will go get supplies and pack kits that will be sent to Syrian refugees — or better said, to men, women, and children just like you and me. We do well to remember that no human wants to be a refugee and that if the roles were reversed, I would pray that someone would welcome my children and my wife.

    One day, when I am long gone, my great grandchildren might ask their grandparents (my children) about the Syrian refugee crisis. They will say that they knew what was going on and that the entire family took action. They will be able to say that they did for others what they would want for themselves if they ever became refugees.

    I hope that the story told will be a legacy of love.

    Your great grandchildren will one day talk about the Syrian refugee crisis of the early twenty-first century. Your action or inaction will be a legacy. I say this with great certainty. I can tell you exactly what my great grandfather’s actions were during the last great refugee crisis in Syria 100 years ago.

    Take action now. Here’s how.

    Join Medical Teams International’s initiative to create and ship 10,000 refugee kits by December 31, 2015. These kits will help 30,000 people. Here are three ways to help:

    • GIVE financially to support the effort. Donations will be used to purchase supplies for the kits and to ship the kits.
    • DONATE supplies, either in bulk or completed kits. They can be dropped off at or shipped to:
      MTI Tigard Oregon Distribution Center
      14150 SW Milton Court
      Tigard, OR 97224
    • VOLUNTEER to pack kits at an MTI Distribution Center. This is a great way to be hands on and give back with family and friends during the holidays.

    For more information and to find downloadable PDF flyers that you can print and distribute, go to

  • Ebola: Clinics stronger & ready to fight outbreak

    by Emily Crowe | Nov 24, 2015

    This week brought unsettling news from Liberia: After being declared “Ebola free” twice since the first major outbreak, the deadly virus has emerged once again.

    Is this reason to panic? Thanks to your support, the answer is: "No." MTI's Andrew Hoskins, Country Director in Liberia, reports from the field:

    "This is not a return to the emergency. MTI’s work (along with multiple other partners) has built the capacity of MOH & Liberian health care workers to handle these cases in a far different way than one year ago. 

    MTI_Liberia_MonroviaDuring the initial outbreak, community misconceptions about Ebola as well as Liberia's already weak health system caused the virus to spread out of control. Our staff focused on teaching, mentoring and helping clinics and communities gain tools to protect themselves from an outbreak.

    "Already we have seen very positive improvements on coordination of the response effort, contact tracing, isolation, etc." 

    Instead of a "smoldering epidemic," your support has been used to build up Liberia's infrastructure: helping stop Ebola before it can spread-- protecting children and families from becoming victims.


    Your generosity is truly saving lives in Liberia-- bringing care and knowledge to those who can make sure children are kept safe, communities are protected. We are relieved that, now, clinics are better equipped to prevent a disastrous outbreak.

    MTI_Liberia_Ebola_infantsWant to get involved? Spread the word: Share this post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and let your friends know that they can make a difference, too! Pray for Liberia and communities still without proper care and training. Donate to our programs to training and life-saving disease prevention around the world.