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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • Myanmar Flooding: Thank you for your support!

    by Emily Crowe | Sep 28, 2015
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    Last month, the world watched as the worst flooding in years swept across Myanmar. Villages were forced to flee as flood waters destroyed dams and submerged entire homes. Families lost everything-- food, homes, medicine and livestock.

    A country still reeling from decades of political "closure," assistance was absolutely vital to ensure vulnerable, displaced families had access to basic necessities like food and safe drinking water. Your support went directly to these families-- providing emergency relief kits, meals and tools for water purification.

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    Families who had to watch their homes be swept away in flood water, who would be starving without help-- were not alone. You were there, making sure parents could feed their children and protecting babies from preventable disease.

    River levels continue to rise as monsoon season rages on. But-- thanks to you-- families are receiving the care they need to survive.

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    In addition to emergency disaster response, Medical Teams International helps run long-term community health programs in Myanmar. Learn more about our work in Myanmar. Want to help save lives, even before the next disaster strikes? Donations for our Disaster Response program allow us to prepare and respond the instant a disaster strikes. 

  • Diabetic— with no insulin— in a refugee camp

    by Emily Crowe | Sep 24, 2015


    Leaving her family behind was like having her heart torn from her chest. 
    Their whole village was bombed, leaving no food, no work and no life. Amal and her daughter, Abir, knew they had to leave their village in Deirzour, Syria to survive

    Running for their lives, they soon found refuge in a settlement camp in Lebanon. Now homeless, and desperately missing the supportive, loving family they had left behind, at least now there were no more bombs. Finally, Amal thought she and her daughter were safe.

    But, just weeks after arriving at the settlement, her daughter became very sick. She had a constant fever and was always tired and withdrawn. When the symptoms didn’t go away, Abir saw a doctor and was given antibiotics. But she didn’t get any better.

    After more tests, the doctor finally found the cause: type 1 diabetes, brought on by stress. Without treatment, her symptoms would persist. If they worsened, her disease could become deadly.

    Amal used every bit of savings she had to buy Abir's insulin. But soon, it became too expensive—insulin is only available locally, and can cost $100 per month—a price too high for this refugee family forced into poverty.

    Amal-Abir holding hands

    Instead of playing outside, Abir stayed inside by herself. Everything made her feel so exhausted. “I wish that I could bear all of this for her,” said her mother. “She is always mentally exhausted.”

    Depressed, alone and feeling hopeless, it seemed too much to bear. Surviving was already difficult enough—Amal hated that it now seemed impossible to meet their basic needs. She hated how much this disease could hurt her precious child.

    Then, they learned about a second option: thanks to your support, we are able to run a clinic in their settlement. When Abir and Amal visited us, our doctors were able to provide them with alternatives to insulin—lifestyle and diet changes that could help control Abir's insulin levels, keeping her symptoms in check—giving her the energy and tools to survive.

    “She is in good condition now,” smiled her mother.

    Although they both still struggle with the pain of leaving their family and the challenges of refugee life, at least now our team can help lift the burden of diabetes from Abir's shoulders. Although it won't fix everything, it's one step in the right direction.

    Fleeing violence, millions of innocent Syrians are trapped in situations like Abir and Amal's. Disease and poverty threaten children and families seeking refuge in settlement & refugee camps. Please help: Pray that a long-term solution may be found, and that immediate relief will reach those who so desperately need it; Share Abir's story with others and advocate for her relief; or donate to provide continued care for refugees like Abir.

  • 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.

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    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.