Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • It takes a village... but first, a leader.

    by Emily Crowe | Sep 22, 2015

    To Chhok, her community was everything.

    She was so frustrated by the stubbornness of her village in Oddar Meanchey province, Cambodia: even though health services were available nearby, many people refused to use them. Instead of asking a doctor for advice, people relied solely on traditional cures and praying to the spirits.

    Many of these beliefs had been in place for centuries, but the needless suffering was not only frustrating—it was heartbreaking.

    Cambodia_Chhok providing training
    Children and their parents attending one of Chhok's community health trainings.

    Often, children suffered the most. In her village, 40% of children under the age of two are malnourished. This has serious implications-- creating impacts that affect children their entire life.

    One of the biggest causes? Poor nutrition education.

    Families try to provide for their children, but it’s hard—proper nutrition simply isn’t understood.

    Want to help more people like Chhok bring health to women & children around the world?

    Right now, your donation for vulnerable women & children who are in urgent need of basic health care will be DOUBLED. 
    Donate now.

    Chhok knew something had to be done. Although her days were very full with farm work, she diligently took on extra duties as a village health support group leader (VHSG) to bring awareness to her neighbors. But, without a clear set of resources to break through to her community, it was so hard to make lasting change.

    Then, something great happened: Your support brought MTI-led training to the province where Chhok lived-- training that allowed her to really understand the solutions available to her village. What's just one simple, life-changing solution? Training that emphasizes the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, "one of the single most effective interventions to combat child mortality."

    Now, Chhok spends her time teaching health education to local mothers-- bringing relief to vulnerable mothers and children that would otherwise go without.

    Cambodia_Malnourished baby being fed

    Are villagers beginning to believe in the impact of Chhok's lessons? You bet.

    Meet Keay, a two-year-old in the village who participated in Chhok's health sessions. In the sessions, her parents learned ways, like exclusive breastfeeding, to protect Keay from malnutrition.

    After just one round of testing, Keay gained an entire pound. "I [am] committed to continue," said her father after witnessing the program's impact on his daughter's health. 

    This is one of the greatest rewards an advocate like Chhok can receive. 

    She hated that she couldn't give her neighbors the help they deserved. Now, fewer children will be trapped in lives marked by malnutrition.

    Even though the health sessions keep her busy, it's worth it. Empowered by the training your support provided, Chhok is living her passion-- and changing lives.

    Inspired by Chhok? Empower more community advocates just like her. Share her story on Facebook and Twitter or pray that our classes in Cambodia will continue to touch vulnerable lives. Consider volunteering locally or abroad with MTI and donate to programs that provide health around the world. Subscribe to our emails for the most up-to-date stories and news.

  • Your Gifts in Action: Myanmar Flood Relief Photos

    by Katie Carroll | Sep 17, 2015

    The rainy season in Myanmar shows no signs of slowing, but donations from compassionate people like you are helping provide emergency relief for victims of the worst flooding the country has seen in years.

    Today we received photos of some of the people receiving emergency relief kits, medicines, sanitation tablets, and food - thanks to generous donors like you. On behalf of these vulnerable who you are serving - thank you.








    Want to help even more families like these? Share these photos on Facebook or Twitter, and join us in praying for displaced families in need. Also, consider donating to disaster relief so that your gifts can be ready to help the minute a disaster strikes. Thank you.
  • Reflections: Prisoners, and a Boy Named Bastri

    by Emily Crowe | Sep 17, 2015

    Dr. Henry, a pediatrician, began serving with Medical Teams International during the Kosovo War in 1999. Since then, he's served on four continents and impacted many lives. His upcoming book, Seasons and Sojourners, shares his insights and experiences. We're honored to share his experiences here-- volunteers like Henry make such an incredible impact on vulnerable lives around the world.

    The following story describes his bittersweet time in Kosovo after brutal violence left many homeless, wounded and vulnerable. Read the entire post here.

    "Mourn with those who mourn,”
    Romans 12:15 (ESV)

    Dust clouds billowed in the foothills of the distant blue-gray mountains, announcing the approach of more trucks filled with refugees from Kosovo. For a month the daily convoys had come to the Mjede train station. Filled mostly with women and children, the misery index was high after the six hour trip over mountainous roads. But their ordeal was not over; after resting and recovering, they were loaded into ancient train cars for an overnight journey south to an unspecified destination, sojourners in a foreign country.

    No home to return to: 16-year-old Bastri, used drawings to share his heartbreaking experiences with Dr. Henry after losing his father and home to violence.

    Today’s convoy of trucks from the border was different. Not only did it contain only men, they had few belongings. As they walked into the ancient warehouse in groups of twos, their eyes were downcast. Their walk seemed robotic. Once inside, they sat on their meager belongings with expressionless faces.

    Bastri Reitzug
    Bastri's drawing.

    One young man, sitting on the floor, head in his hands, never looked up for six hours, refusing water, bread, or Spam. We learned the men had recently been released from the horrors of a Serbian prison.

    Some, like a man with shrapnel wounds, sought medical care. Two elderly brothers, wearing vests and coats over their shirts, apparently deemed too old to kill, related in heart-breaking fashion how, before imprisonment each had lost their sons in one massacre. Their loves, their joy, and their family name had been eradicated in one afternoon on a hilly meadow near their ancestral village. Facing the heartbreakingly personal reality of ethnic cleansing, it is difficult not to cry.

    Victims of ethnic cleansing: Before imprisonment, each brother had lost his own son to ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

    Two dark haired men, with countenances free of guile, but eyes speaking of unthinkable pain, want to sit next to me and tell me their story. Keep reading >>

    Learn more about Henry's experiences serving vulnerable people around the world: Check out the other stories on his blog, Seasons and Sojourners. Interested in volunteering internationally with Medical Teams International? Learn more about how you can get involved.

  • Days become years for vulnerable Syrian refugees

    by Emily Crowe | Sep 14, 2015

    Three years ago, they had a peaceful home in Idlib, Syria.

    But then - at the onset of the Syrian civil war - her middle class hometown descended into brutal conflict. Fearing for her children’s lives, she fled to a settlement in Lebanon. One week later, her home was bombed to the ground.

    Najwa's face carries the heavy burden of a refugee mother.

    While they had narrowly escaped certain death in the conflict, Najwa and her family continue to struggle to survive in the nightmarish conditions of the refugee camp.

    In those early months, the overcrowded camp was a horrible place. Living conditions were filthy - there weren’t even latrines. Her family crowded into a mud-covered tent, packed next to other fearful, displaced families. There was no clean water and no food. At times, her hungry little children were so desperate for food they ate bugs to fill their empty bellies.

    One of Najwa's Daughters, Alaa

    One terrible day, a car struck Najwa’s daughter Doaa on the road running through the middle of the refugee settlement. Not even 7 years old, she suffered a severely injured leg and lung damage. What little resources the family had left, Najwa invested in caring for Doaa.

    Thanks to your gifts, Najwa and her children are receiving the medical care the desperately need. You provided an inhaler for Doaa’s lung condition, and she now receives care and monitoring of her disability. You sent emergency dental care to her three oldest children for teeth badly decayed and infected due to years of neglect and inaccessibility to care in the camp.

    For Najwa, the future is uncertain. Living in often unsanitary conditions and with no home to return to and no means of financial stability, your support is helping provide light through the darkness.

    Thousands of families have stories just like Najwa’s – often worse. Days have turned into years for Syrian refugee families, struggling to get food, water and medicines in the packed camps. You are touching the lives of so many people in their hour of desperate need. It's a privilege to witness God's love through you. Thank you.

    Want to help even more families like Najwa's? Share her story on Facebook or Twitter, and pray that children like Doaa will receive the care they need. Also, consider donating to help Syrias refugees so that we can continue to provide crucial medical relief in Najwa's camp. 

  • Relief at Ground Zero: Remembering 9/11

    by Emily Crowe | Sep 11, 2015

    On September 11, 2001, the world changed.

    Deadly terrorist attacks in New York City killed thousands-- and left many more vulnerable and suffering. Our disaster response volunteers provided trauma counseling to local students and rescue workers at Ground Zero. The volunteers also trained pastors and church leaders in grief counseling.

    NY 911 response praying

    Today, we reflect on this heartbreaking time and take a moment to give thanks for your support and the life-changing relief it brings to disaster victims around the world.

    "I know that just our presence in Ground Zero during those initial days after the attack made a difference," said volunteer Todd Pynch.

    "We served as chaplains and counselors and talked and prayed with these rescue workers. Those emergency workers needed to know that God had not abandoned them. When I saw life come back into their eyes, I knew I had made a difference."

    NY 911 response church

    Please pray with us for those affected by this tragedy, and give thanks for the generous supporters and volunteers who took action.