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Local Medical Teams International Volunteer Helps Congolese Refugees

by Barbara Agnew | Dec 05, 2013

(PORTLAND, ORE. - Dec. 24, 2008) This Friday, a local physical therapist with Medical Teams International leaves for southwestern Uganda where she’ll help thousands of families fleeing the fighting in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Portland community leader and business owner Katherine McCoy first volunteered with Medical Teams International in 1989 when she traveled to Jamaica during Hurricane Hugo. McCoy has served in Uganda, Mexico and Honduras with the organization.

Medical Teams International volunteer Kathi McCoy will be available for interviews and photos from 2 to 3 p.m., Friday, Dec. 26, at PDX’s Northwest Airlines ticket counter.

McCoy joins two Medical Teams International volunteers—a Portland physician and a Camas, Wash. nurse—currently operating a mobile medical clinic near the Congolese border. The region is home to 40,000 Congolese refugees. McCoy will provide medical triage, wound care, and perinatal care to refugees at the camps.

Congo’s long-standing conflict, much of it focused on resources and ethnic rivalries, has been called the world’s deadliest dispute since World War II. Aid organizations estimate that nearly 5.4 million people have died in this decade-long conflict, nearly half of them children. An additional 45,000 Congolese are reportedly dying each month from preventable diseases.

An additional 1 million people have been displaced by the ongoing violence in the Congo. Due to an increase in an already volatile conflict, more than 250,000 Congolese have fled their homes in the last several months alone.

“When families cross the border into Uganda, they come with nothing but the clothes on their back,” explains Joe DiCarlo, director of emergency relief at Medical Teams International. “Once they reach the makeshift shelters, they face additional hardships: lack of clean water, medicines and sanitary conditions. In these conditions, deadly diseases like malaria, diarrhea or pneumonia run rampant.”

‘We’re grateful to have Kathi serve with us,” adds DiCarlo. “She has a tremendous commitment to our work and more importantly to the people we serve. She's a successful business leader who brings both heart and skill to Medical Teams International.”

To contribute to the Congo Relief Fund, please visit our secure donation form; call 1-800-959-4325; or mail funds to Medical Teams International, PO Box 10, Portland, OR 97207-0010.