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: "We are Christ's hands"

    by Emily Crowe | Jul 24, 2015

    Our volunteers are at the core of everything we do. Last year, 2472 volunteers donated over 80,000 hours: packing and preparing medical supplies, supporting our programs and events, and volunteering abroad.

    Together, MTI volunteers supported 3.15 million people in 30 countries around the world.

    DC volunteer highlight Helen
    Helen: Distribution Center Volunteer

    Helen has been a dedicated MTI volunteer for over two decades. She heard about MTI on television- she liked what she heard and thought she could help. We are so blessed that she did.

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

    Volunteering since: 1994

    What are some of the biggest changes you have seen over the years?
    The computer, before that everything was done by hand. In the old building the sorting area was the size of our current Breakdown area. We had a small crew so we did both the sorting and the packing. We sorted from boxes into boxes. The system now with the sorting bins is so refined.

    What has kept you at Medical Teams International? The mission, the love and caring that goes into what we do here. The sense of ‘family’ that has been created here, when my husband was sick I even hired someone to help so I wouldn’t miss my shift.

    What do you want the new volunteers to know? Remember that we are Christ’s hands to those most in need. This is important work.

    Do you have any favorite memories or insights about volunteering with MTI that you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you! Join us on Facebook and Twitter, or send us an email. Interested in joining our volunteer team? Learn more.

  • When faith wins: Battling Cerebral Palsy in rural Haiti

    by Emily Crowe | Jul 20, 2015

    “No. You can’t.”

    These are words eight-year-old Markely heard too often while growing up. Born with cerebral palsy in rural Haiti, his protective parents struggled with his disability—and had few resources to know better.

    Markely was six years old when he first visited the clinic where we run our Advantage therapy program. Seeing such untapped potential in a bright young boy, we quickly fitted him with leg braces and prescribed a walker. Excited about the impact these basic resources would have on his life, we sent him home to practice walking.

    Walking wasn’t his only challenge, though. Without further therapy, daily activities like brushing teeth or putting on clothes were still impossible.

    Unfortunately, Markely’s home was so remote that accessing the clinic was a significant burden. Location wasn't his only barrier, though: Even though he showed strong physical and social skills, his family was protective—they worried about placing too many expectations on their little boy.

    They were also afraid—what if something was just too hard? What if he hurt himself? Without the support and resources he needed at home, Markely spent two more years hearing “no” because of his disability.

    Then an amazing thing happened.

    After attending a training at the clinic, Markely’s primary school teacher began to recognize just how much Markely’s potential was overlooked. The teacher pushed, advocating for the value of therapy and referring him to the clinic.

    Finally, Markely’s parents said yes.

    Staff at the clinic were immediately impressed by Markely’s social and physical skills—and worried about resistance from his overprotective parents.

    The clinic’s supportive environment gave Markely the push he needed to really thrive. In two weeks of
    intensive therapy, Markely learned how to brush his teeth, put on clothes, and even use a specialized, hand-peddled PET cart that greatly increased his mobility. 

    Haiti_MarkelyMarkely using a PET mobility cart. Because he can propel it with his hands instead of feet, this tool now provides Markely with mobility that was previously impossible.

    However, one of the most remarkable changes happened to Markely’s parents: after protecting him for so many years, they finally saw their son as a capable, independent person.

    After a lifetime of “no’s,” you gave Markely the ability to finally hear “YES.” Your donations brought life-changing therapy to a young boy that would have otherwise been overlooked his entire life. He is still receiving therapy at our clinic, and continues to make amazing progress.

    Not only did you change Markely’s life, but you taught an important lesson to an entire community: Faith, not fear, is the most important tool when raising a child. Markely and his family are proof that—through faith—we are all capable of incredible things.

    Take action: Share Markely's story on Facebook and pray for empowerment for those who are overlooked. Consider volunteering locally or abroad with MTI and donating to our programs that provide life-changing resources to incredible people like Markely. Learn more about our programs in Haiti. 

  • Ground Cockroaches? Delivering safe babies in Haiti

    by Emily Crowe | Jul 08, 2015

    Imagine you’re nine months pregnant. Now imagine you’re living in rural Haiti, hours from the nearest hospital with no reliable means of transportation. Suddenly, your water breaks. How would you feel?

    Not long ago, Benita Dorcé found herself in this exact situation.

    For women in rural communities across the world, pregnancy is an especially vulnerable time. Without the help of a well-trained birth attendant, infections and disasters are commonplace.


    Benita and her child, safely delivered, thanks to your care.

    In Haiti, only 24% of births are attended by a skilled birth attendant. In the US, this figure is 99%. Newborn babies are more likely to die in Haiti than in any other country in the Western Hemisphere. (UNICEF 2009)

    What’s one of the deadliest killers of newborn babies in Haiti? Tetanus.

    Many untrained attendants don’t know the importance of using sterilized tools or gloves. This puts people like Benita and her baby at great risk. A common practice in rural Haiti, many babies are born on the dirt, umbilical cords cut with non-sterile tools, and ground cockroaches applied to the severed skin.

    Without a skilled attendant, Benita and her baby would have been treated the same way.

    Thankfully, your donations and support are at work in Haiti. Our Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) classes teach safe delivery practices to local birth attendants. Rural attendants travel for miles from their homes to take classes—bringing expert-level skills to even the most remote communities.

    When Benita’s water broke miles from the nearest health clinic, our TBA was there to help her. Before training, the attendant would have followed unsafe practices and unknowingly exposed Benita and her baby to serious danger.

    Now, women like Benita can truly feel—and be—safer.

    Instead of cockroaches, Benita and her baby received quality delivery care. We are so grateful that we could be part of this amazing moment—thanks to you, this mother and child are safe and healthy.

    TBA gradutation haiti

    Class training of Traditional Birth Attendants in Haiti.

    Looking for more ways to help? Learn more about why community and maternal health is so important. Please pray that more women like Benita will have access to care. Finally, consider donating or volunteering with MTI to bring valuable health to people across the world.
  • Taxis, voodoo and tuberculosis: Gerard's story

    by Emily Crowe | Jun 30, 2015

    Gerard was desperate for a solution.

    When he started coughing, he hoped it would just clear up on its own. With seven children to take care of, this Haitian father had to work hard as a moto taxi driver to provide for his family. Being sick was simply not an option.

    Soon plagued by fevers, he began taking self-prescribed medications—with no relief.

    After two months, his family became worried that something was seriously wrong. Instead of taking him to a clinic, they were convinced something else was to blame: evil spirits.

    For $250—a lot of money in a country where the average income is less than $900—he met the local voodoo priest. His treatment? Gerard told us that for part of the treatment he had to strip down and stand naked in the street while being showered with water. 

    Unfortunately, it did not work. Soon, Gerard noticed something that made him worry: Not only did his symptoms persist, but his leg was swollen, too. Now, Gerard had seven mouths to feed, $250 fewer savings, and little hope for a cure.

    He was filled with fear for the future. If he was too sick to work, how could he take care of his family?

    Gerard, Haiti
    Gerard finally received the help he needed to get better, and can now serve as a community advocate to encourage others to seek proper treatment.

    Right when things seemed so desperate, a life-changing encounter happened—Gerard's neighbor, an MTI-trained Community Health Worker (CHW), arrived at the door.

    Trained to recognize and intervene in cases exactly like this, he suspected tuberculosis and knew Gerard needed immediate medical help. He pushed and pushed—and finally convinced Gerard to visit a doctor.

    Not far from town was an MTI-supported health clinic where he could get diagnosed. There, the CHW said, he may be able to find an answer. Desperate for relief, Gerard quickly sought help.

    He was soon transferred to a specialist who soon verified the true cause of his symptoms: Tuberculosis.

    While this was a frightening diagnosis, at least he now knew what was wrong. Finally, Gerard could begin proper treatment. 

    The Community Health Worker visited Gerard's home every week to make sure he was healing. We were thrilled when we finally heard good news: After months of suffering and even more months of treatment, Gerard is cured. Now this hardworking dad is back with his family, healthy and confident—empowered by the knowledge that, if he ever has another health crisis, there is a team nearby waiting to help.

    Your support gave Gerard the answers he needed when there seemed to be no solution. You trained the Community Health Worker who gave eyes and ears to local doctors and intervened—saving Gerard's life—when other methods failed. Your generosity allows us to provide support for hardworking, vulnerable people like Gerard—and we are so thankful.

    Looking for ways to help? Please pray that people like Gerard will continue to have access to potentially life-saving care. Also, consider donating or volunteering with MTI to bring valuable health to people across the world.

  • Philippines Success Story: Family Builds New Life Amid Temporary Homes

    by Tyler Graf | Jun 29, 2015

    Vilma and Rozaldo
    Rozaldo, his wife Vilma and their five children at the temporary house they now call home.

    When a devastating typhoon struck the Philippines in 2013, it uprooted the lives of Vilma, her husband Rozaldo and their five children. The family lost its home and its ability to make an income to the super storm.

    Life went from mundane to chaotic in a flash. It became very hard. There was no place to live and no place to work.

    Following the typhoon, the family and others like them spent two months building small shelters by the seashore. Because of their proximity to the water, these structures were quickly deemed unsuitable for habitation. If another storm swung through the Philippines' eastern shores, these buildings would be the first to go.

    The family was eventually relocated to one of several transitional shelters built on high ground. The shelters are sponsored by Medical Teams International and run by Operation Compassion Philippines.

    The temporary structures are built above he floodplain and provide some amenities, including space to plant gardens.

    At first, Vilma and Rozaldo found it hard to adjust their day-to-day lives while living at the house. The comforts of home had been permanently lost. There was pain in the constant reminder that they were not at their longtime home, where they had made all their happy memories.

    But those feelings soon disappeared, the couple said. After a month, they became accustomed to their new way of life. Among the transitional homes, made of sturdy interwoven bamboo, there are also small markets – known as sari-saris – where people work and buy household items. The family also has a backyard garden, and they are learning how to grow their own vegetables.  

    Vilma, Rozaldo and their children are also not alone. Their temporary house is located in a cluster of many similar homes, occupied by other victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

    The outpouring of financial and prayerful support during the aftermath the emergency set the groundwork for this innovative community to take shape. Vilma and Rozaldo now have the opportunity to rebuild their lives, and the lives of their children. Thank you for being there for them and giving them the opportunity to recapture the independence they felt before the typhoon.

    The couple said they can only express their utmost gratitude to the people who never forgot about them and helped them along the path of recovery and rebuilding. "Now, we are assured that we can sleep well and safe, away from the dangers of living close to the sea," they said.