Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

Sign up to receive the blog directly to your email inbox

  • Volunteer Spotlight: Multiple Sclerosis won't slow him down!

    by Emily Crowe | Mar 02, 2016

    Our volunteers are at the core of everything we do. Last year, volunteers donated tens of thousands of hours to serve families, clinics and communities in need: packing and preparing medical supplies, supporting our programs and events, and volunteering abroad.

    Together, MTI volunteers supported 3.4 million people in 32 countries around the world. Meet just one of these outstanding people:


    Michael: Distribution Center Volunteer

    Most Tuesdays, Michael can be found hard at work at our Tigard headquarters. Most likely, he's working on equipment in the back of our Distribution Center (or, as savvy locals call it, the "DC"), playing an integral role in ensuring we can send medical supplies and medicines around the world. If he’s not there, he's probably with other volunteers, guests and staff worshiping at chapel.

    When did you start volunteering with Medical Teams International? Michael started volunteering in 2005 shortly after the Indonesian tsunami.

    What all do you do in the DC? Over his 10+ years serving in the Distribution Center, Michael's worn a number of hats-- he's helped with mailings, packing product, breakdown, pre-sort, equipment, and repainting the DC volunteer area.

    Why do you like volunteering in the DC? In 1997, Michael was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He's since been a passionate part of the Multiple Sclerosis Society-- recently finishing his 9th year in the Bike MS Ride where he cycled 68 miles in two days. He focuses on positivity in everything he does. That’s why he likes volunteering in the DC. “It’s my part of giving back, repaying. It a great atmosphere, the work is unique and the people are positive. When you see me stop smiling, you know I’m done.”

    Each one of our volunteers makes such a difference- thank you for blessing us with your generosity and support. 

  • Cambodia: Healthy Women, Healthy World takes action

    by Emily Crowe | Feb 25, 2016

    Healthy Women Healthy World is Medical Teams International's new initiative that seeks to mobilize women to be champions for health issues that impact women and their children. Throughout the year, members are given the opportunity to gather and learn about the global health issues women and children are facing-- engaging locally, at home, and abroad. This week, several members from the team are in Cambodia, meeting local staff and families and getting a first-hand look at the impact of Medical Teams International's work.


    The five of us arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Saturday at 10:30am. It's already been a whirlwind of experiences. Even leaving the airport, we got a first-hand taste of the risks and differences of the road here- as we prepared to leave, we were completely blocked in! Witnessing the vast difference in roads and driving rules, we can clearly understand why traffic fatalities have jumped so high in recent years.


    A heartbreaking history at the Killing Fields, just one of the remnants of a blood regime that killed millions of innocent Cambodians. The destruction left permanent marks on the country's development.

    We experienced a very somber day on Sunday as we toured the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Horrifying and unimaginable are the first words that come to mind. In just a short period of time, we have learned so much more about the hardships this country has faced.

    Thankfully, in contrast, we ended the day surrounded by beauty of the beauty of the Cambodian people and countryside-- we were blessed to join several Medical Teams International field staff for dinner on the Mekong river.HealthyWomenHealthyWorld_Cambodia_trip

    Yesterday we received a briefing on Medical Teams International's programs in Cambodia, so today we head to the Prey Veng province to witness the incredible work being accomplished through the Emergency Medical Services project. We are looking forward to another eye-opening day.

    I can't write this and not also share how amazing the Medical Teams International Staff are here in Cambodia. We feel so blessed to have met these hard-working, gracious staff who work diligently each and every day to bring help to those in need. We have been so impressed and know that God has placed these wonderful people here to do his work.

    Please pray for continued good health for our team.

    Diana, Kristi, Kathy, Linda and Annie

  • Zika: Protecting mothers & children

    by Emily Crowe | Feb 19, 2016


    Meet Laura, a mother served by the community health programs we operate in Latin America. As Zika spreads, we are now working with mothers like her to minimize the spread and impact of the virus.

    The World Health Organization has declared the Zika outbreak an international public health emergency. Medical Teams International is using our knowledge gained from years of work serving in local communities that are at risk of infection-- to protect mothers and minimize the spread and impact of the virus.  

    Donate now: Protect mothers & infants from the Zika virus >>

    How do mothers contract Zika?

    The virus is transmitted through the bite of a specific type of mosquito that's been infected by the virus- the same type of mosquito that carries dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. There are a few indications that transmission is also possible between intimate partners.

    What's the risk?

    The virus is suspected to be linked to higher rates of babies born with microcephaly- an abnormally small head caused by lack of brain development during pregnancy or lack of growth after birth. This can have devastating effects on a child's development, making it harder to survive and thrive. It is also suspected to be linked to a rare disorder, Guillain-Barre syndrome which attacks nerve cells which can cause muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.

    Here is how Medical Teams International is protecting mothers and children during the Zika outbreak:

    One of our core programs is community health. These programs work to support the health of mothers and their children. Over the years, we’ve implemented training and support systems that teach these moms to protect themselves and their children from many serious threats: malaria, malnutrition, pneumonia, risks associated with poor water, sanitation and hygiene practices, etc. We run these programs around the world- including communities across Latin America and the Caribbean.

    With the spread of Zika, our current programming makes MTI well positioned to be able to reach these women and their families with training and education to avoid Zika—removing standing water, avoiding Zika-prevalent zones, using protection against mosquitoes, etc. We are working diligently to make sure the women we serve are better able to protect themselves during this outbreak.

    We’ve already begun implementing this training in the communities where we work in Latin America, and will expand training to other regions if the outbreak spreads.

  • Silveira's struggle: Helping families in rural Guatemala

    by User Not Found | Feb 17, 2016

    Silveira could not figure out what was wrong. She was weak and exhausted all the time. Her children depended on her to survive- especially her youngest infant- but everything felt impossibly difficult. She and her husband made the journey from their rural Guatemalan community of San José El Soch to the town of Chicaman 22 kilometers away. At the health center in Chicaman, Silveira was diagnosed with severe anemia. Her body was not making enough red blood cells to keep her healthy. 

    Jaime_Silveira_helping_mother_child_health_GuatemalaWhen Silveira learned of her anemia, her youngest son was almost one-year-old. The constant fatigue that comes with anemia prevented her from giving young Jaime enough breast milk. Her son was so tiny. Why wasn’t he growing like the other children? Amidst her own suffering, the determined mother brought Jaime to the health clinic hoping to find an answer.

    Jaime was weighed and measured. He was underweight. Silveira was so afraid when she heard that her precious baby was diagnosed with malnutrition. How could she protect her tiny child from the weakness that had invaded her body? Thankfully, you were there to make sure Silveira got the support she needed to overcome the barriers her condition presented. 

    Thanks to you, we were already at work in Silveira's community, training local Mother Counselors in Guatemala to provide health education and outreach to other mothers in their communities. These passionate Mother Counselors worked with Silveira as she attended classes on how to properly feed Jaime and help him recover from his malnutrition. Jaime’s mother learned about healthy food, clean food preparation, hand washing, and hygiene.

    Thanks to you, Silveira gained the knowledge and tools to give her children bright, healthy futures.

    Silveira thanks God for Medical Teams International staff and the Mother Counselors. They empowered her to better take care of her most beloved treasures: her children. In March, Jaime weighed 11 pounds. By May, her sweet baby weighed almost 14 pounds. What an incredible miracle! Jaime’s health is constantly improving, and Silveira feels so happy.

    Without the generosity and support of people like you, Jaime’s story might have had a different, more tragic ending. We are so grateful for your partnership, as we work together toward better maternal and infant health in Guatemala.

  • From the Field: Your support kept Marcela safe.

    by Emily Crowe | Feb 12, 2016

    One of our volunteers, Tom Berridge, just returned from serving in the field in Guatemala. He came back with this amazing story of your impact on one woman- and how it's now helping her entire community:

    Because the births of her first three children had been easy, Marcela expected no difficulty delivering her fourth baby. Accompanied by a midwife in a small, indigenous village Guatemala, she gave birth to a healthy boy, Elias. The birth had been normal... but her placenta still had not been expelled.

    Marcella is a mother counselor herself and had attended MTI trainings. She knew that, after 30 minutes, placenta trapped inside the uterus can lead to dangerous complications: internal bleeding, infection... even death. 

    But she lives two hours up a bumpy road from the nearest hospital. When she called her husband, who was on his way from his job in Guatemala City, he told her to wait at home until he arrived. So she waited.

    Marcela and Elias seven months after the frightening night that could have taken this mother's life.

    Marcela’s husband arrived four hours after the birth. The placenta still hadn't expelled, and she had developed a headache and abdominal pain-- warning signs. She and her husband called the MTI staffer for the village. Luckily, an MTI medical team that included doctors from Faith and Practice was working in a community a half hour away, so an MTI staffer was able to get there quickly in a pickup.

    After hearing the problem, the staffer called an ambulance, put her in the truck, and took her to the doctors on the MTI team in the community down the hill. The doctors didn’t have the equipment to treat her, but the ambulance soon arrived and took her to the clinic in Chicamán, where she was told that they also did not have the necessary equipment, so she continued to Uspantán. She later said that as she rode in the ambulance, she was thinking, “If I die, who will take care of my children? Nobody is going to treat them as well as I treat them.”

    When she arrived at the hospital, she was suffering from shock, and the doctor immediately removed the placenta. Her back and stomach hurt. She was kept in the hospital for two more days to be sure she did not have an infection. Thankfully, her pain soon subsided and she could go home to her family and new baby. Finally, she felt good.

    Now my children are so healthy that other women come and ask me questions so their children can be as healthy as mine.

    Marcela is spreading the word in her community. She has shared her experience with the four other mother counselors in her community, and she is using her story to teach other mothers the importance of seeking immediate help if a placenta has not been expelled after 30 minutes. She encourages other mothers to have their babies at the hospital, and some mothers are taking her advice.

    “Now my children are so healthy that other women come and ask me questions so their children can be as healthy as mine,” she said. “I am sorry I didn’t listen before, but I am telling others to listen to MTI because the things they tell us help with our well-being,” she said.

    “I would like to thank Medical Teams for having people with big hearts who help us,” she told Tom. “We called them and they were here right away to pick me up. People who work for MTI help with all of their heart. Even though the nurses knew I had done wrong by waiting, they were not angry with me but told me to have faith that I would be OK.” She also said she wanted to thank MTI for coming and offering workshops on nutrition and hygiene, where she listens carefully.

    Thanks to you, this mom was able to survive her complicated birth-- and is helping others do the same.