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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.  

  • Disaster Update: Syrian War Enters 4th Year

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 18, 2014

    Thank you for your support of our Syrian refugee relief program.  Thanks to you, Syrian families in desperate need can receive care during this time of conflict and uncertainty.

    Your generous donations have shipped 10 Intra-Agency Emergency Health Kits and 10 major surgery kits to Lebanon - enough medical supplies to serve up to 100,000 refugees.  You have also sent a 40-foot container of medical supplies to provide for up to 25,000 refugees in Jordan.

    Yet the need continues to be great. The Syrian Civil War enters its 4th year this month, and nearly 2.5 million displaced Syrians are enduring yet another harsh winter in refugee camps. Syrian refugees are without access to healthcare.  According to a recent report by UNICEF, 1.2 million Syrian children are refugees in need of humanitarian aid.

    If you haven't yet, watch our video that takes you inside the settlements of Syrian refugees where Medical Teams International is providing care.

    Thank you for your generosity and commitment to demonstrate the love of Christ to Syrian refugees in need. Your support sends these critical supplies to the most urgent situations around the world, where refugees are dependent on the generosity of people like you.
  • Volunteer Highlight: RJ Tripicchio

    by User Not Found | Mar 18, 2014


    RJ Tripicchio served with MTI on an 11-member Providence Health International volunteer team in Guatemala in February of 2014. The volunteers funded 40 fuel-efficient ventilated stoves in Chioyá, Alta Verapaz, and worked with community members and MTI staff to construct the stoves in families’ homes. This article was originally posted by Providence Health International and has been reproduced with the author’s permission.

    Holy Smoke

    by RJ Tripicchio

    As I reflect on our final days in Guatemala, I realize it is all too much right now. We were preparing to come home as the same, but somehow different people. Our time spent, our work performed, was so concentrated like a heavy black ink, that the experience will take days, weeks, months for its true components to be realized for both us and them as we move forward through life. 

    However, in my last day I was struck by the story of Pentecost and how in so many ways our experience resonates with those early followers of Jesus. When this hit me I had a thousand thoughts about all the images of the week, the experiences, the conversations, and the emotions—it was like being in a movie rewinding back to all the clips connecting the dots making everything so clear. I of course had to pull back into my Jesuit education and lifelong Catholic lessons that at times I had not paid attention to. But this experience suddenly became clear: an Aha! Or perhaps a Duh! sent from Fr. Muller, S.J.

    Our mission was to help to the people of Chioyá build stoves. Not to simply pay for the stoves, but to work side-by-side and live with them for those days. I imagine it was like walking in the footsteps of Christ going from village to village sharing Love with those whom the world had forgotten or given up on. And in walking in his footsteps we were able to experience small glimpses of a beautiful world and kingdom in which the people of Chioyá live—a reward beyond any price; a gift impossible to describe, filled with both heartache and overwhelming Love. Even though we split up as teams daily, our bus rides and reflections would be filled with the same emotions, same feelings, same stories. Some moments were loud, boisterous, exotic tales, and others were true moments where silence superseded the words. And even in the end the stories didn’t matter, they were just an avenue to release the emotions inside. When we removed all the layers deep down, the kernel of what mattered in our attempt to describe what we experienced, was a communion of understanding. Ultimately it was our attempt to describe our overwhelming encounter of God’s Love for All.

    During Pentecost we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit where the disciples and others from many lands came together to pray. Were they actually on fire? Did they actually speak in tongues? My Jesuit education suggested that perhaps they all truly spoke different languages, had different customs, different gestures; but perhaps the real miracle was that they all came together to express their encounter of Christ, and somehow they all understood the same message, felt the same inspiration. These varied people became unified and felt like a community because they finally found others who had a shared experience. I imagine they felt relieved and overwhelmed with joy to know that their Jesus experience was not unique to themselves, but in fact part of a community who encountered God’s Love through “The One.” And this experience they described as the Holy Spirit descending from heaven and entering into each one, not only filling them with joy and understanding but compelling, inspiring, them to take the message out and start the community known as Christianity.

    So I thank everyone who made this experience possible because I feel filled with “something.” I call it the Holy Spirit, which for Catholics is that feeling inside your gut that has to be released into life like our breath. We talked on our last day as to “what next?” Maybe it’s letting time and action diffuse out the intense, concentrated Love that was placed inside of us during our time in Guatemala. I’m excited that the experience will never end, and will change for me tomorrow, in a month, in years. I am amazed!

    (I laugh too, because perhaps the Pentecost theme was too obvious—riding on a red bus every day, three cultures communicating easily, our failing attempt to put emotions into words yet understanding each other deeply, building stoves for fire, giving them clean air to inspire.) 

    God’s Grandeur
    by Gerard Manley Hopkins

    The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
    Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
    Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
    Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

    And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.


    MTI_Guatemala_Alta Verapaz
  • Volunteer Highlight: Ian Yocum

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 17, 2014

    Volunteers are essential to Medical Teams International.  This month we are proud to highlight volunteer Ian Yocum, who has served on 5 disaster response teams and 2 EMS Capacity Training teams, providing care for at least 5,200 adults and 4,725 children.  He has donated over 1,000 hours to Medical Teams International, with services worth more than $25,000!

    Ian is a Battalion Chief for Tualatin Valley & Fire Rescue, a fire protection and emergency services agency that serves more than 440,000 citizens in one of the fastest growing regions in Oregon. When the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami hit in 2004, he immediately signed up to volunteer with Medical Teams International.

    Ian has been integral in developing our non-profit’s Emergency Medical Services program by serving in disaster relief teams for Sri Lanka, Japan, Haiti, Cambodia and Uganda. He also helped recruit and establish 35 other technical experts as disaster relief volunteers for Medical Teams International. More importantly, Ian introduced and developed a crucial strategic partnership between Medical Teams International and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, allowing the MTI to mobilize lifesaving care as soon as within 24 hours of a disaster striking. Ian and his colleagues not only give their personal time, they also use their own funds for travel expenses, allowing Medical Teams International to mobilize more funding for the people they serve.



    Ian has been an integral part of implementing an Incident Command System (ICS) into MTI's First-In teams in disaster situations. In 2011, a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake, one of the five largest earthquakes ever recorded in world history, hit the eastern coast of Japan’s Tohoku region. This created an extremely destructive tsunami, with heights up to 133 feet, which hit Japan just minutes after the earthquake. Ian led two teams to Japan with the mission of implementing ICS and training members of the disaster relief partner (CRASH Japan) in its use. ICS, endorsed by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a standardized, on-scene, all-hazards incident management approach that is internationally accepted and used.  

    Ian Yocum in the Philippines, Nov. 2013


    In addition to being team leader for our first team to respond to the Japan tsunami, Ian was also the team leader on our first team for our response to Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.  Altogether Ian has been on 7 missions with Medical Teams International and has every plan to keep doing so. When asked why he keeps coming back, Ian quickly responds: “It allows me to marry my three passions: my profession, my desire to help people and my love of travel.”

    “More importantly, it lets me teach my kids, Wyett (10) and Cooper (7), that the world is a big place and that we need to help each other. Volunteering gets your out of your usual ‘comfort zone’ and makes you become a more well-rounded person.”

    Join us in thanking Ian for his generosity and compassion as well as his commitment to serving people in need.  Thank you!

    Original story by Chiqui Flowers
  • Lifesaving Medicines Success Story: Iskhakov

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 16, 2014

    Ask anyone who’s had a child -- when a 10-month-old baby becomes very ill there are sometimes only moments to spare. That was the frightening case with little Iskhakov when he was rushed to the Republican Center of Emergency Medical Care in Uzbekistan. Fortunately for him, not only was Dr. Kholmatov Bokhodir on duty to provide emergency aid, his hospital had also recently received a shipment of urgently-needed medical supplies through the support of generous donors like you.

    Iskhakov at the Center of Emergency Medical Care

    Dr. Bokhodir at first kept Iskhakov breathing using an Ambu bag (hand-held respirator). Once stabilized, the tiny baby boy needed oxygen, delivered through the tubes you see in hospitals called a nasal cannula. He also relied — as he does every day — on the sterile surgical gloves, tongue depressors, catheters, syringes and intravenous needles and tubes, all provided through the generosity of supporters like you.

    Without lifesaving equipment and medicines, little Iskhakov would have almost surely died.

    Delivery of medical supplies & equipment in Uzbekistan

    Thank you for your generosity and compassion.  You are truly saving lives for people in need.
  • Lifesaving Medicines Success Story: Ayelia

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 14, 2014
    Congolese families fled the conflict and brutality of war for refuge in Uganda, arriving with only the belongings on their back.  Now, their children are being born in refugee camps and are suffering from nodding syndrome, a mysterious and rare form of epilepsy.  Affected children nod their heads when they see food or feel cold, leading to seizures that cause injuries, concussions, and severe burns on many who fall into cooking fires.  Nodding syndrome is little-understood and so-far unpreventable, but it can be treated with medications.

    Fifteen-year-old Ayella has nodding syndrome. It's obvious from his eyes. The lids are half-closed, and his stare is vacant. When spoken to, he is unresponsive. Until your gifts of medication, he was so sick that he couldn't walk at all. 


    Your generous gifts shipped medicines to Ayella, and he is improving greatly in just three months. As a result of the medicines you sent, he is now able to walk some.  Although Ayella is still unable to speak, his mother says that understands when someone speaks to him. “Since he has been on these drugs from Medical Teams International, we have seen significant improvements. We are so grateful. We thought we had lost our son.”

    Thank you for your generous gifts, which provide lifesaving medicines and medical supplies to Ayella and children like him around the world.  

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