BANGLADESH - While other families marked Christ’s birth this past Christmas at home with friends and loved ones, four volunteers with Medical Teams International spent the season bringing medical care to villagers in Bangladesh.
When a disastrous cyclone hit the country in late November 2007, Medical Teams International responded immediately. Four volunteers—three nurses and a doctor—volunteered to go to Bangladesh and give a Christmas gift that couldn’t be wrapped up under a tree: their time, skills and healing touch.
Registered nurses Sandy Stone, Ann Johnson and Don Scott, along with Dr. Steve Price, served with our Bangladesh partner Christian Service Society.
“Providing medical care, especially to people who have none, is the least I can do,” says Stone. “People ask me why I do it and I say, ‘Why not do it?’ I enjoy sharing my skills in this way.”
Every day the volunteers traveled at least three hours to rural villages located along potholed roads. Awaiting them were people who make their living cultivating rice paddies, and feel lucky to own a goat or afford vegetables for their family.
“The people we saw did not talk about side issues like health insurance or their children’s day care costs, like we so often hear about in the U.S.,” says Stone. “They were simply grateful for food and shelter and were so appreciative for our assistance.”
The team saw 70-90 people each day, sometimes returning to the same village several days in a row to be sure they cared for everyone they could. Cases ranged from dysentery, diarrhea, and pneumonia—requiring immediate medical care—to fractured bones that had not been tended to since the cyclone hit more than a month earlier.
The warmth, welcome and gratitude of those they served was a gift in itself to the team. “We always felt so welcomed by the people and our service partner,” Stone says. “One village woman even made bricks to patch a deteriorating bridge just so we could cross it.”
The volunteers arrived home Dec. 28, in time to celebrate the New Year with families and friends. They enter 2008 with the privilege of having given the best Christmas gift of all: Jesus' love, shown through the gift of healing and health.