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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Get the latest updates from our programs in the field internationally and here in the United States.  

  • 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.
  • Guatemala Success Story: Don Eduardo Turns His Life Around

    by Tyler Graf | Jun 25, 2015

    MTI Volunteers visit a Guatemalan village
    Medical Teams International volunteers greet villagers in Guatemala. Volunteers provide health services and community health training in rural areas of the country.

    Don Eduardo felt powerless. Despite being a well-respected religious leader in a small municipality of Guatemala, he drank heavily and abused his family.

    In drunk anger, he would beat his wife. The abuse didn’t stop there. The entire family suffered, either physically or emotionally. Over time, they lost respect for the man who had, at one time, garnered enormous trust in his community, serving both as the deputy mayor and as a religious leader. He’d lost his way. His health, and the health of those around him, suffered.

    He knew he had to change his ways to regain the trust of his community and be the leader he knew in his heart he was. His health depended on it, too.

    Your generous support spanned a continent and found its way to Don Eduardo’s village. It had an immeasurable impact on the man, his family and his community.

    Don Eduardo recalls meeting with Medical Teams International volunteers in 2013, when they came to his village. During that visit, he learned of MTI’s local health programs and its mission to demonstrate the love of Christ to people affected by disaster, conflict and poverty.

    He decided to give the volunteers a chance. That day, Don Eduardo’s life changed.

    Although he had lingering doubts, he attended an MTI training session. It was inspiring. He kept returning to learn more about how to implement sustainable health practices. And by taking a class called “Transformational Development,” he was able to turn his life around. He discovered how to become a powerful force of change within his community and for his family. He learned that through his own actions, he could become a community health evangelist.

    He is thankful and very appreciative for MTI’s teachings, which have helped him realize the importance and meaning of life. He is thankful for the strong unity he has built with other religious leaders, and for how they have collectively demonstrated a spiritual and holistic approach to health care.

    He has also rekindled his relationship with his family by stopping his hard-drinking ways.

    “Thanks be to God and MTI for giving me the opportunity to participate in these training sessions as well as for providing me with the knowledge and skills to support families in the community,” Don Eduardo said.

    Your generous donations make these personal transformations possible. They turn lives around by supplying health care and knowledge to the world’s vulnerable people. 

  • 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.

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