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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.  

  • Lifesaving Medicines Success Story: Irene

    by Katie Carroll | Apr 22, 2014

    Today we share with you a story of how your gifts to our lifesaving medical supplies program are changing lives for children around the world. Thank you for your generosity and compassion!

    17 Year Old Irene has Nodding Syndrome


     Irene is a 17 year old with Epilepsy and Nodding Syndrome. When she has medicines, her symptoms are controlled; she can sit, walk, help with chores around the house, and go to school. Like most children with Nodding Syndrome, when she does not have her medication, Irene becomes a danger to herself. The disease starts to destroy her physically and mentally, and puts her at risk of falling into fires, among other things.

    With one brother and one sister, she’s the oldest child in her family, and the only one to have Nodding Syndrome.  Irene's mother cares for her. Irene began having symptoms 12 years ago, when she was 5. She had to leave school at 13 because of her symptoms. 

    Irene's Mother


    The community has come together to help each other through these hard times. If Irene has a seizure while her mother's away, other neighbors who are familiar with her illness step in to help. The challenge is getting medicine consistently. If there’s a shortage of medication at the clinic near their home, they travel 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the nearest town to a clinic where they can get the medication they need for free. 

    Irene and her mother with MTI Staff

    There are places closer that sell the medicines at an expensive price, but Irene's family can’t afford it…so they trek the 30 km to Gulu instead. However, making the long trip can be challenging since that cuts into time Irene's mother needs to spend working in the fields for food.

    On this day, Irene and her mother traveled less than 1 km to a clinic to receive the necessary medications to treat Irene's Nodding Syndrome from MTI staff and volunteers - medications that YOU sent!  We are so grateful for your donations to our medical supplies distribution program.  Your support is transforming the lives of Irene and children like her.  Thank you!

    Story by Megan Steele
    Photos by Trina Chase
  • Field Report: Making Immunizations for Children Accessible in Haiti

    by Katie Carroll | Apr 22, 2014

    We are very grateful to share with you how your generous gifts are helping mothers and children in Haiti.  Thank you for supporting our Haiti programs!

    In Crochu, Haiti, mothers need to walk about four hours to bring their children to a health facility to receive necessary shots. The ones who can afford, spend about 150 gourdes ($3.33 USD) for transportation beside money for food during the day out. Otherwise children receive vaccines only when there is immunization campaign: one or two times a year.

    Thanks to you, this month Medical Teams International was able to coordinate with the UCS (a group of local public health institutions) to bring immunization services closer to the community.  MTI received supplies such as cool boxes, syringes, cotton balls, alcohol, vaccines, vitamin A, bio-security boxes,scales, registers and forms.  We also facilitated the organization of a rally post where children, pregnant women and women of reproductive age received primary health services such as immunization shots, vit A, weighing, education on health topic, through mothers’ clubs activities with the support of health committees.

    The community of Démier had the opportunity to organize the first rally post. The members of the mother club “Vérité” had the responsibility to invite and sensitize their neighbors to come to the post. They also prepared the place in the community to receive the mothers and children.

    MTI Volunteers Registering Mothers & Children

    The health committee members helped registering the mothers and children, administrated vit A, conducted education, and weighed children. 

    Mothers Bring Children to Receive Services

    A Pregnant Woman Receives a Shot

    The members of the Vérité club were very proud of their accomplishment. They shared with MTI staff, “This is the mother club that make it possible for the community to receive the services closer. The parents can bring their children and go back to their occupation. They don’t spend time or money for transportation and they don’t lose the day of work.”

    A Child Receives a Shot

    A Child Being Weighed

    You make this possible!  Thank you!

    Story and photos by Joanne V. St. Louis, Health Program Manager
  • Volunteer Highlight: Brittn Grey

    by Katie Carroll | Apr 21, 2014

    This April, we celebrated our volunteers with appreciation events. We honored several with service awards, including Brittn Grey, who won a Gold U.S. President’s Award for serving over 500 hours with Medical Teams International in Guatemala!

    President’s Volunteer Service Awards are awarded by the U.S. President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation for service in the prior year. This year we had three Gold winners. After serving her award-winning volunteer hours in Guatemala, Brittn recently became a full time employee at MTI as our Latin America & Caribbean Program Coordinator. She took a break from her busy visit to the States to share her thoughts on volunteering with MTI and winning this distinguished award.

    Brittn first learned about MTI in early 2013 through a team leader who was organizing a medical team to San Juan Chamelco in Guatemala and needed a translator. Brittn, who is fluent in English and Spanish, had previously volunteered internationally in Latin America with other organizations as a translator. Although she is not a medical professional, Brittn was interested in getting involved in public health and international development related to health; plus as a former resident of Guatemala, she already had love for the country. The trip with MTI seemed like a good fit.



    After her first week-long volunteer trip with MTI, Brittn was hooked. She was convinced by MTI’s mission and health goals. “I was very impressed,” she says, “by MTI’s structure; to incorporate and empower the local community for the good of the community’s heath.” Brittn was also impressed by the Guatemalan field staff. She says, “MTI’s focus on using local staff that know the languages and are intimately aware of the cultural context has a phenomenal impact on the sustainability of the program and its practical application.” Her interest in MTI’s work and goals materialized in a long-term volunteer position in Guatemala.


    Brittn’s reflections illustrate that volunteering with MTI has been a rewarding experience. "Volunteering," she says, “allowed me to develop relationships with community members who are the most closely impacted by MTI’s work. I got to be on the end where I saw the funding move into change, where I saw the funding providing opportunities for social and behavioral change that has the potential to transform health within impoverished communities.”



    Volunteering alongside Guatemalan field staff, Brittn also learned about the cultures and customs of the communities she worked with; she felt enriched by the staff’s knowledge and skills. Additionally, as a coordinator for teams of volunteers - providing in-country logistics, interpretation, and programing - Brittn enjoyed a “tremendous opportunity to be a bridge between different cultures and to be involved in the transformational development that is fostered within both the volunteer and the communities through MTI programs.”

    When asked about winning the Gold President’s Award, Brittn says she was totally surprised and really honored. Her humble thoughts on winning the award truly demonstrate MTI’s values: “There are so many volunteers working for MTI and so many local Guatemalan volunteers that are so crucial within the community where we work, my part is very small. But its part of a larger picture that I have been so honored to be a part of.”



    Congratulations to Brittn again on her award! We are so grateful for all of our volunteers who make our work possible.

    Join our team! Click here for more info on our Guatemala Program and Team Services Volunteer position and how to apply. No medical experience required. Fluent Spanish a must.

    Help change the lives of Guatemalan families - donate today.
  • Ugandan Chess Champion Visits MTI's REAL. LIFE. Exhibit

    by Katie Carroll | Apr 21, 2014

    On Friday, MTI's REAL. LIFE. Exhibit received a special visit from Phiona Mutesi, a national chess champion in Uganda. She stopped by with Robert Katende, her chess coach, and Don Brenneman, Oregon Ministry Director at Sports Outreach Institute.

    Phiona Mutesi, Don Brennaman, Robert Katende

    Mutesi grew up in the slum of Katwe in Uganda. Here father died of AIDS when she was about three years old. She and her siblings lived on the streets. When she was about nine, Mutesi followed her brothers about two miles to a food program run by Sports Outreach Institute.

    At the center, Mutesi was not interested in soccer, like her brothers. Instead, she fell in love with chess. She met Katende who is a missionary at Sports Outreach, and he became her coach.

    Among her accolades, Mutesi has participated in two Chess Olympiads, and become one of the first titled female chess players in Ugandan history. In 2012, author Tim Crothers wrote a book based on her life called The Queen of Katwe, One Girl’s Triumphant Path to Becoming a Chess Champion. Disney is currently making a movie about Mutesi.

    Through chess, Mutesi has been able to change her life.  She is visiting the U.S. now to share her story at churches and through interviews.  She is also helping to raise money for local children through Chess for Success.  

    It was a pleasure to have such a distinguished guest visit MTI so that we can share our mission.

  • Field Highlight: Elizabeth in Liberia

    by Katie Carroll | Apr 17, 2014

    Elizabeth is a Trained Traditional Midwife (TTM) from Saywanken village near Tubmanville Clinic in Sinoe County, Liberia.  She said before Medical Teams International came to provide education and support, delivering babies was very dangerous. “Since my Mama born me, the woman all give birth behind the bush. Now MTI here, we learned and are coming to the clinic.”

    Elizabeth received a training to look for danger signs in pregnancy. Last week she noticed a pregnant woman with bleeding. She referred her to the clinic in Tubmanville. The woman is now she is being watched by healthcare professionals and has a much higher chance of having a healthy baby and remaining a healthy mother. Elizabeth said, “I thank God for MTI to come here. I like it too much.”

    Thank you for your selfless support of our community health and safe motherhood programs.  You are providing this training, which helps save lives!

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