Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • Syrian Spotlight: Fighting to stay together

    by Emily Crowe | Oct 01, 2015

    As more and more Syrian refugees are making the treacherous trek to Europe, Medical Teams International has begun sending supplies to Greece to help families survive. Amidst grueling journeys, refugees are finding themselves trapped in dangerous conditions with no way to meet basic needs. Meet one vulnerable family searching for a safe place to call home:


    Six months pregnant, the treacherous journey is frighteningly dangerous for Ahmad and his wife- crossing oceans in small boats, walking miles by foot and surviving without

    Make an impact:
    Right now, every donation to our Syrian Refugee Fund is DOUBLED. 

    access to basic sanitation and healthcare is a dangerous proposition for anyone, especially a pregnant woman.

    Only two days before we met them, their two-year old son fell on the mountain and broke his arm. He received medical treatment but needs an operation- and has no medication for the pain. 

    Camp conditions will only worsen as winter (and rains) begin- filling streets with dirty, stagnant water- and camp capacities are increasingly strained.

    Worst of all, after surviving the deadly sea journey together, his family now risks being torn apart: Ahmad's entire family is from Syria, but the officials processing his papers claim he is from Iraq.

    While his wife and children have been fast-tracked (Syrian papers receive priority), he is unable to leave the camp without registration. As long as they are trapped in the camp, his young son with the broken arm has no access to treatment or pain medication.

    Pregnant, Ahmad's wife must risk her and her unborn child's life to seek safety. After falling down the mountain, their youngest son (right, wearing his arm sling) needs surgery to fix his broken arm but there is no medication in the camp to lessen his pain.

    As winter approaches, Ahmad's family will face freezing temperatures and with only the clothes on their back to protect them. This, combined with poor sanitation and overfilled camps, is a recipe for pneumonia, hypothermia and diarrhea.

    We are praying that his papers will soon be processed and that this family will be able to soon find safety. We also pray that our supplies will be able to impact as many lives as possible- maintaining refugees' dignity and protecting precious lives during this difficult journey.

    Your support provides relief for Ahmad's family and thousands just like them. Please help: pray with us that families will be able to survive grueling journeys, and that fighting in Syria will finally find an end. Advocate and share their story on FacebookInstagram or Twitter- together, WE can make a difference. Consider donating or holding a fundraiser for Syrian refugees with your church or school. 

  • Sick, desperate and soon freezing: Syrian refugees in Europe

    by Emily Crowe | Oct 01, 2015

    The fighting in Syria seems to have no end- and families trapped in deteriorating camp conditions or desperate for a stable home are risking everything to find safety. As the crisis worsens, refugees are facing even greater risks to find safer lives for their families. When nearby settlements fail to provide this, families are forced to make a difficult decision: Stay in the camps, or make the grueling, dangerous journey to find new lives in Europe. 

    Father, Ahmad, and his family. They lost their infant, relatives, and home to the war. Only days before, their young son (on the right) fell and broke his arm. There is no pain medication or doctor to perform the surgery he needs to heal. Authorities will not let Ahmad through, so his family must wait for paperwork to be processed before they can continue their journey. 

    Refugees are giving everything up to be "smuggled" into Greece- a sea journey that has taken the lives of countless children and torn families apart. Upon arrival, refugees must wait for registration before they can move onward and complete the long, grueling trek to their final destinations in Europe.

    Amidst its own economic crisis, Greece's resources are severely strained- in some camps designed for only 200, hundreds or thousands are trying desperately to survive while they await registration. Without adequate sanitation or food, and winter quickly approaching, camps are becoming ticking time bombs of disaster. With 5,000 new refugees arriving in Greece every single day, and the inflow of vulnerable people increasing, specifically pregnant women, children and the elderly, an immediate response is absolutely necessary.

    Shipments of "dignity" hygiene kits protect women from preventable disease and maintain the health to care for their children. With freezing temperatures approaching and families unable to afford winter clothes, jackets and sleeping bags help stave off hypothermia and pneumonia.

    Living on dirt with no drainage and poor sanitation access, streets are filled with stagnant, trash-littered water. 

    Pregnant mothers, injured children, and elderly who have lost everything during this crisis need our help. Without relief, the coming months will be filled with even more heartbreak.

    These supplies are key to providing families with dignity- and the basic necessities to survive- on their journey to find safer lives. YOU are providing strength and safety to these families, offering a strong, comforting hand and walking alongside them on their dangerous journeys.

    Want to help? Please pray with us that families will be able to survive these grueling journeys, and that fighting in Syria will finally find an end. Share their stories of need with others on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter- together, WE can make a difference. Consider donating or holding a fundraiser for Syrian refugees with your church or school. 

  • Myanmar Flooding: Thank you for your support!

    by Emily Crowe | Sep 28, 2015

    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.


    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.


    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.