Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • Saving young lives: Nepal kits in action

    by Emily Crowe | Jun 23, 2015

    Are things like water purifiers important? For infants like Proban, they can be life-saving.

    In the last 60 seconds, 12 children under the age of five died—most from preventable diseases. Many of these deadly diseases, like diarrhea, are caused simply by poor sanitation.

    Without your help, Proban, a bubbly, 7-month-old baby from Dohla, Nepal, could have become one of these 12.

    After the earthquake, Proban and his mother, Kumari, were left completely homeless. Frightened, vulnerable, and their home a pile of rubble, they were forced to move into a small tent. Now monsoon season, little Proban and his mother have only a thin tent wall protecting them from vicious flooding and rainstorms.

    7-month-old Proban and his mother in Dohla, Nepal.

    This is more than a discomfort: Inadequate shelter can result in the deadly spread of otherwise preventable diseases—it’s hard to stay dry, and clean water can be hard to come by.

    Because of this, your donations traveled to Nepal to provide mothers with hygiene kits. In partnership with Shanti Nepal, 330 families received kits in just one month. Filled with supplies like oral rehydration solution, water buckets, and—of course—water purifiers, these kits provide an important layer of protection from preventable diseases.

    At the post, Proban’s mother received a kit and training from MTI. More than a collection of hygiene supplies, the kit is a way to keep her baby safe.

    Kumari, Proban, and all of us at MTI are so grateful for your support—for people who have lost so much, these kits are an important way to protect vulnerable, young lives.

    We were thrilled to see Proban’s smiling face. With safer hygiene, Proban’s chances of becoming one of the 12 children lost every minute are that much smaller.

  • Cambodia Success Story: Luy Kim Learns Education Key to Healthy Pregnancy

    by Tyler Graf | Jun 22, 2015

    Luy Kim and her baby in Cambodia
    Cambodian Luy Kim sits with her baby boy.

    Even though she was eight months pregnant, Luy Kim had never set foot into her local health center.

    Despite having a cyst on her fallopian tube, the 25-year-old Cambodian woman resisted receiving any prenatal care. She told local health workers that she preferred to give birth at home on the ground. That's how she gave birth to her first child, a daughter.

    Kim is like many women in Cambodia, who actively oppose prenatal care. That lack of education is one reason why infant mortality has been high in the country. But thanks to the work of the local MTI-backed Village Health Support Group, children are surviving troubled births. MTI trains the support groups, which consist of local volunteers. Your generous donations have resulted in positive changes in Cambodia, by providing empowerment, knowledge and community-based solutions that keep mothers and babies healthy.

    In Kim’s case, it also took a lot of perseverance.     

    At first, Kim and her family resisted going to the health clinic. When MTI-supported health workers showed up at her house, she expressed no interest. Despite her condition, she said she knew what was best.

    Nonetheless, the health workers were undeterred. They returned – again and again and … again.

    They talked to Kim’s husband, her mother and her mother in law. Soon, Kim was listening. She learned about the advantages of receiving prenatal care and undergoing a birth supervised by trained midwives. Eventually, Kim supported the idea.

    Her husband, too, was a source of encouragement. He spent time away from the family's farm to take Kim to the local clinic. 

    Luy Kim 2 with husband in Cambodia
    Luy Kim, left, holds her baby boy alongside her husband and daughter.

    "After I got the good advice ... (from) MTI staff about my health, it alerted me to get more understanding and think about my health. I must need to take care of myself and my baby," Kim said. "My husband was happy to go with me to the health clinic even though he has been very busy with his work. He encouraged and accompanied me to received health care facility services ... and encouraged me to delivery at the health clinic."

    Kim's successful birth was attended by four MTI-trained midwives. Because she was being looked after, she was confident the birth would be a success. And it was! She delivered a healthy baby boy.

    Kim thanked MTI and the perseverance of its health workers. They opened her eyes to a healthy and promising future. 

  • Uganda Refugees: Working to Rebuild Lives

    by Tyler Graf | Jun 19, 2015

    Uganda, big group of refugees
    A group of refugee children in Uganda.

    An unprecedented number of people – nearly 60 million – currently live as refugees, driven from their homes by persecution, conflict or poverty. Most are clustered in encampments in the Middle East and Africa, places that lack the necessary resources for such a massive influx of haven-seekers.

    As World Refugee Day approaches on June 20, we're reflecting on and praying for the lives of the world’s most vulnerable, who, for various reasons, cannot return to their homes. In settlements in Lebanon and Uganda, Medical Teams International provides care to thousands of refugees.

    The work is a reminder: Behind the grim number, there are individuals — each one valuable, all with dreams and aspirations.

    David Alula is MTI’s director of operations in Uganda and has worked alongside refugees for more than a decade. The growing number of refugees places a strain on settlements and the communities that surround them, he says.

    “It is a serious crisis,” Alula said. “It’s impossible to plan for all the refugees.”

    That was the case earlier in the month, when fighting in the African nation of Burundi resulted in thousands of people spilling into bordering countries. MTI is currently assisting roughly 8,200 Burundi refugees in southern Uganda, in addition to refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

    Uganda is one of the nations at the center of the refugee crisis, despite being on weak footing itself. The country is now home to more than 400,000 refugees, most coming from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

    The top needs among the refugees are health care, food and sanitation, Alula said. It's easy to see oneself in the refugees, he added. In a growing number of countries it's becoming more common to become one. He is reflective, saying, "one day they are refugees, next day maybe me."

    "Some of these are high-class people used to living in nice houses," Alula added. "They are used to having jobs. Now they have to start life under a tree. The best food they can eat is beans and porridge, which are not even in good condition."
    The stories the refugees tell are harrowing, Alula said. They literally have nothing. Many have been abused.

    "When you see it," he said, "that's when you want to cry."

    What keeps him going are the stories of success and the knowledge that he makes a difference.

    He recounted the story of a woman who became a refugee after she was attacked and raped and left for dead. Foreign doctors provided aid and transported her to a large hospital, where she was able to recuperate. When she came to the settlement, she received care and regained her strength and mental stability.

    Eventually, she immigrated to the United States, where she currently lives. Because of the support and awareness of the international community, this woman's life improved. 

    MTI strives to make the lives of refugees stable again by controlling communicable diseases, providing psychological services and dispensing medicine. Even with the rising tide, help will remain and, with your help, grow.

    Want to be a part of the movement? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, sign up to receive emails, and check out our refugee page to discover more, including how to donate.

  • Bringing Relief to a Syrian Refugee Mother

    by Emily Crowe | Jun 16, 2015

    Five minutes.

    That’s how long it took the bombs to strike Moamar’s farm and turn everything—her home, her livelihood—into a pile of rubble.

    After the bombing, Moamar, a suburban mother in Syria, escaped with her four children into Lebanon. Homeless and terrified, she hoped to protect her family by seeking support and protection in a refugee camp.


    Soon, she learned what was happening to those she left behind in Syria: Her father was killed when he went to the bakery for a loaf of bread; Her cousin, who was like a brother to her, was kidnapped, imprisoned, and killed.

    As the war continued, Moamar lost all contact with the rest of her family in Syria. She is heartbroken that she never got to say goodbye to her dad.

    While she and her children escaped the fighting in Syria, they struggled in the poor camp conditions. For Moamar, lack of healthcare was the biggest challenge at the camp.

    After borrowing $2500 to pay for emergency care for her son, she was deep in debt. Four months pregnant, she dreaded the birth of her child. How could she afford to care for yet another child? Or have the energy to help her family survive?

    Soon, this stress began to take its toll.

    Daily activities became harder and harder, and she began battling symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and low energy. Already struggling to take care of her family, these new health problems made life even harder.

    Responding to the needs of the thousands of Syrian refugees like Moamar, Medical Teams International arrived at Moamar’s camp. Our team discovered she was suffering from low-blood pressure and quickly gave her treatment and health education. Already, she feels a difference.

    While the clinic could not bring back Moamar’s home or promise her an easy future, she is grateful that there is someone at the camp to take care of her. She is also thrilled to have more energy and be better able to care for her children.

    Your prayers, donations, and support extend a loving embrace to a vulnerable, struggling mother in Lebanon. Life as a Syrian refugee will continue to be difficult for Moamar, but we are grateful that we can provide important relief during her time of need.

    Want to bring relief to more vulnerable families like Moamar's? Donate to bring desperately-needed medical care to refugees. Pray that families and children will be protected. Share her story Facebook and Twitter, sign up to receive emails, and learn more about MTI's work with refugees.
  • Liberia Success Story: Keeping Faith Alive

    by Tyler Graf | Jun 10, 2015

    Faith with grandmother 2
    Baby Faith, who's 2 years old, with her grandmother in Liberia.

    Faith’s life has been a struggle from the start. The girl’s mother abandoned her in Liberia when the baby was only a few weeks old.

    If Faith didn’t have her grandmother in her life, she wouldn't have anyone at all. Grandma raised the toddler, who is now 2-years-old, and there’s clearly a lot of love between the two.

    But grandma is only one woman.

    The support system that many people rely on simply hasn’t existed for Faith. So when the toddler became sick with an unknown disease, there was no place to go for help. It just so happened that Faith had become desperately ill during the height of Liberia’s Ebola epidemic, a time when all illnesses were viewed as a potential public-health threat. Health workers were reluctant to treat patients who might have Ebola – even babies like Faith.

    Health workers initially showed little interest in Faith’s condition. They didn’t ask enough questions to know how to treat the baby girl. The only thing doctors knew about Faith’s condition was that the girl’s skin was feeling intermittently hot and cold. An MTI “rapid response” team was called to assess Faith’s condition out of concern that she might have Ebola. Her symptoms were similar.

    That’s when Faith’s condition worsened. Her skin broke out in a rash, and her eyes turned red. She came down with a fever, and she had trouble swallowing. There was a painful sore inside her throat.

    When MTI’s rapid response team assessed the young girl, they concluded that she either had measles or Ebola. The prognosis was frightening. Both illnesses are deadly. Ebola in particular was on everyone’s mind. It’s the scourge that has killed more than 4,800 people in Liberia alone. But because of your gifts, MTI’s rapid response team was on the ground to transport Faith to a clinic, where she was monitored for several days and tested.

    Faith tested for measles or Ebola
    Faith is tested to make sure she doesn't have Ebola.

    There was a minor sense of relief when the tests came back negative for Ebola. She had measles instead. Thanks to the quick intervention of the clinic’s staff and the rapid response team, Faith’s condition improved. She is now free of measles and is happy and healthy.

    Faith is an accurately named little girl. She started with nothing, became sick during the worst Ebola pandemic ever, but nonetheless survived with a smile. Your support, donations and prayers made the difference. Thank you for making a positive impact in this girl’s life and, in doing so, keeping the Faith.