Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • Hind: Syrian Refugee with Something Left to Give

    by Sarah Austria | Jan 28, 2017

    On a sunny, crisp winter day in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, Syrian refugee Hind tells the story of her last four years. Upon hearing it, it would be understandable if the sum of her experiences had toppled her. On the contrary - Hind has not only survived, but is standing tall to care for her new community.

    Four years ago, Hind knew they had to leave. She was afraid for her sons’ lives- her two young sons looked older than they were and she feared they would be forced to join the army. With no alternative, they walked to the Lebanese border. The journey was horrific - she and her sons dodged bombs as they fled.

    “I feared for my life. It was the worst two hours of my life.”


    To flee, they had to make a difficult decision - leave her husband behind. He couldn’t enter Lebanon because he would be stopped at the checkpoint and drafted into the army. Trapped in the violence in Syria, he’s sustained injuries to his head, leg and skull.

    In Lebanon, Hind and her sons lived in an informal refugee settlement near the border with Syria. They lived there for two years, until the Syrian army began bombing their settlement directly, believing some ISIS family members to be living there. Hind recalls, “If you looked at the night sky, you could see the rockets hitting each other.”

    Again, Hind and her sons had to flee for their lives.

    “I didn’t like the war in Syria. But I actually lived the war in Lebanon.”

    After two days of fighting, the Lebanese army opened the roads to civilians and Hind took the opportunity to flee Arsal. While escaping in a taxi, her sons hid under their few belongings so they wouldn’t be found and arrested at the army checkpoint.

    Now their home is again an informal refugee resettlement, this time in the Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Hind continues to care for her sons, now 14 and 18.

    The challenges for the boys are great. Neither of them attends school. Her eldest son, Haroun, managed to continue school until 9th grade. Abdrauif, her youngest son, was a very tall 5th grader when he was placed into a 2nd grade class. He eventually became so embarrassed and depressed that he left school.

    Despite incredible struggles, Hind is giving back and serving others in the refugee settlement.

    Hind wishes her youngest son could have continued until the 9th grade like his brother. But, on top of this, he is dealing with serious health issues. Partially paralyzed from kidney problems he developed before he was 2 years old, Abdrauif needs a kidney transplant and needs frequent health monitoring - but the transplant is too expensive.

    The last four years have been full of struggles for Hind - but she has not given up. Thanks to your support, she’s received training to become a Refugee Outreach Volunteer. She now helps to monitor the health of the community members in her settlement and refer them to the Primary Health Care Clinics for treatment.

    Hind likes helping patients with home visits so they don’t have to leave their settlement for monitoring and treatment of non-contagious illnesses. And, as part of her role as a Refugee Outreach Volunteer, Hind is able to monitor her own son’s blood sugar level with equipment provided by Medical Teams International.

    Hind and her sons are among thousands of Syrian refugees seeking safety in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Thanks to your support, Medical Teams International is there and has built a network to address the critical health needs of the refugees. 500 Refugee Outreach Volunteers have been trained in 100 informal settlements. Volunteers refer community members to Primary Health Care clinics run by the Ministry of Public Health. There, the refugees receive treatment and follow-up.

    With one son now working in the fields nearby, and the other in need of a new kidney, Hind continues to care for her family. Her situation and experiences may seem too much for an ordinary person to handle, but her resilience is extraordinary. Luckily for her community, somehow, Hind has something left to give.

  • A welcome medical delivery in Cambodia!

    by Emily Crowe | Jan 26, 2017

    How big of a difference can a delivery of medical equipment make in a health clinic? For under-served clinics in an impoverished country, they make a huge difference.

    Thanks to the hard work of partners, donors & our distribution center volunteers (learn more about volunteering), our teams were able to ship a container full of medical equipment and supplies to several hospitals in regions where we work in Cambodia! These tools help local medical staff provide better care - providing exponential value for those in need.

    The shipments received a warm welcome. Check out these photos from an opening ceremony hosted by one of the hospitals that received equipment and supplies:

    Local leaders and many of the hospital staff showed up for the shipment welcoming ceremony. 

    Clean medical supplies reduce the risk of infection & death in under-served clinics.

    Donated-medical-supplies-cambodiaBoxes of medical supplies arrive at one of the clinics where we work in Cambodia. 

  • Spreading health (and smiles!) around the world.

    by Emily Crowe | Jan 23, 2017

    Reflecting over the past year - and looking forward into the new - one thing is clear: Your support makes an incredible impact.

    In 2016, you sent medical supplies to clinics in urgent need. You taught children the importance of safe hand-washing and sent hygiene kits around the world. You transported pregnant mothers to clinics for safe delivery and made sure they received follow-up care. And so much more. Best of all, your support will impact these lives for years to come.

    As we look forward to the impact we will make - together - in 2017, please take a moment to meet some of the incredible people you helped in 2016:

    Syrian refugees in Lebanon & Greece: You sent medical supplies and doctors, trained community Health Outreach Volunteers, and brought care where it is desperately needed. 

    Hurricane victims & long-term programs in Haiti: You made sure children, families and communities stayed safe in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew - and are ensuring they'll be healthy in the years to come.

    Refugees in Uganda: Violence in South Sudan and Burundi forced thousands of families to flee their homes and become refugees in Uganda - sometimes more than 6,000 per day. You're making sure our teams can meet the demand and get refugees the medical care they deserve.

    Community health in Guatemala: Your support sent volunteer teams and empowered health programs in Guatemala, making sure more children grow up healthy and strong.

  • South Sudan: "There was nothing left for me"

    by Emily Crowe | Jan 19, 2017

    This story comes directly from a refugee mother we met at one of the refugee settlements we serve in Uganda. Like too many others, she and her children had fled fight in the home, South Sudan. Thank you for bringing health care to families like hers. Please pray that she and her child will find healing and safety.

    There was nothing left for me back there; no home, no food, even one of my children was taken from me. The soldiers came and took everything. They didn’t care that my child is sick, and that another one had been killed by one of their bombs. They still come and take everything.


    [We] came because of hunger. In Nimule (South Sudan), everyone is fighting. Soldiers come to take everything.

    They didn’t care that my child is sick, and that another one had been killed by one of their bombs. They still come and take everything.

    We left home and started traveling towards the border, but we still couldn’t find food anywhere—we were starving. The road to get here was very dangerous... You have to bribe the soldiers if they find you on the road. They charge 800 SP per adult and 400 SP per child. And even if you pay them, another might come and arrest you. Some people die on the roadside because they cannot pay.

    I lost everything, I came with nothing, only the clothes on my back... We were luck to have made it.

    Thousands of women like Opia and their children have fled South Sudan as unimaginable violence has become terrifying reality. Even more heartbreaking, Opia's family was separated in the camp. Your support is critical to keep refugee families like Opia's safe. Thank you for making sure she and her children have access to safe, reliable healthcare.

  • Haiti: Small Acts of Kindness

    by Sarah Austria | Jan 13, 2017

    Medical Teams International’s Mobile Medical Units enable prompt response after a natural disaster strikes, bringing medical care when and where it’s needed most. Here is one story of how a Mobile Medical Unit made a difference after a recent disaster.

    In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, many clinics in Haiti were destroyed or closed. Cholera risk was extremely high, and many people suffered injuries. Especially in isolated, rural areas, locals urgently need a safe place to find help. Thanks to your quick response, Medical Teams International’s Mobile Medical Units were up and running almost immediately, providing relief and working hard to prevent a deadly cholera outbreak.

    Volunteers & staff work together to treat patients in the mobile medical unit.

    Health workers noticed a large crowd assisting an obviously injured man. The hurricane devastated the island, causing injuries and illness. What was wrong with this patient - and would they be able to help him?

    He was immediately brought in to see the physician. Jean, a 39-year-old farmer, had been working to clear hurricane debris from land. He cut his foot while using an ax. A hard-working farmer, he needed to be mobile to make a living. Without treatment, his injury could lead to serious infection. Thankfully, his fields were close to the Mobile Medical Unit and he was immediately brought for treatment. Seriously hobbled by the injury, Jean was treated by Dr. Dave, a physician. A nurse, Teryn, and Humanitarian Team Leader, Frank, both assisted in cleaning and dressing the wound.

    Nurse Teryn describes what happened next. “After dressing his wound, Jean was unable to put his sandal back on due to the bulky dressing. However, in the nature of helping one’s neighbor, Jean’s friend took off his own larger sandals and handed them over to him to use. Sometimes, even a small gesture can mean a lot to someone in times of need, and today we were blessed to witness this selfless act."

    "Sometimes, even a small gesture can mean a lot to someone in times of need, and today we were blessed to witness this selfless act."

    It can be daunting to imagine how to begin the process of rebuilding, but Jean and his friend know exactly what to do. Neighbor helping neighbor with a small, profound act of kindness is a great place to start.

    Jean was fortunate to receive medical care. According to the United Nations, Haiti is considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Against that backdrop, Hurricane Matthew has only added to Haiti’s recent history of devastating natural disasters. Thanks to you, Medical Teams International is in Haiti providing expert medical care for immediate needs, as well disease prevention and control.