Thursday, June 02, 2005


In 1979, businessman Ron Post was struck by a television report of a dying Cambodian refugee girl, wondering what he would do if she were his own child. Moved by what he saw, Post organized a group of 28 medical volunteers to care for the survivors of Cambodia's Killing Fields.

While it may sound like it only provides medical treatement, in more than 25 years Northwest Medical Teams has sent more than 1,200 volunteer teams to respond to disasters, provide medical attention, refurbish orphanages, construct clinics, and care for children. They travel around the globe to bring medical aid and humanitarian relief to thousands of people in need.

Locally, dozens of volunteers serve in our warehouse by sorting medicines and repackaging supplies. Others assist with office work or participate in our Speakers Bureau program. This organization clocksmore than 90,000 donated volunteer hours each year. With such a high volume of volunteer time Northwest Medical Teams is able to keep its administrative costs low and deliver its critically needed services to more than 1.5 million people annually.

Northwest Medical Teams sends many different types of medical teams to numerous countries to assist their international partners in long-term development projects, while providing a wide range of health care, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief to thousands of victims of crisis.

Northwest Medical Teams distributes humanitarian aid such as medicines, supplies and other goods to people in more than 50 developing countries as well as in the Pacific Northwest. And they help developing countries create and sustain preventative healthcare programs and work on water and other health-related construction projects.

The organization has a 15-member board of directors, responsible for its governance as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit humanitarian aid organization incorporated in the state of Oregon. It has its administrative headquarters in Portland, Ore., with additional offices in Washington state and California.

Northwest Medical Teams operates more than 150 volunteer teams who provide local and international humanitarian aid each year, and those volunteers are recruited by a staff of over 60, who also provide logistical support for the operations.

As a religious Christian based organization its mission is to demonstrate their faith to people affected by disaster, conflict and poverty. And while it is a religious based organization it offers humanitarian aid to people in need regardless of their religious background, affiliation or experience. And aid recipients are not asked to participate in faith-based activities in order to received medical care or supplies.

Operating with an annual budget of $99 million in 2004-05 it is a much larger organization than any other been featured on this Blog to date. And in December 2003, Forbes magazine picked Northwest Medical Teams to be placed among its "Gold Star list" charities. This is a list of 10 charities that, according to Forbes Magazine, "shine and are worthy of consideration." Northwest Medical Teams has been recognized as being exceptional by other monitors familiar with the non-profit industry.

Northwest Medical Teams states that it "multiplies every dollar given by more than 85 times. For example, a $100 donation helps send $8,500 worth of humanitarian aid and supplies to people in need. Ninety-six percent of all donations go directly to our programs and services, with only 1% of all donations funding administrative costs."

With such a high percentage of its donated funds going to its programs, it is easy to see why it is so often recognized.

Northwest Medical Teams' African programs are located primarily in East, Central and West Africa, where there are chronic overwhelming needs. Communities with little or no access to health services are targeted for the organization's humanitarian aid and community development programs.

On the African continent, Northwest Medical Teams partners with local agencies, assisting in training healthcare providers; community health development work; HIV/AIDS prevention, education and care; surgical care; and clinic construction. This year they intend to send six volunteer medical teams to provide healthcare services to local communities and train local doctors and healthcare workers.

Among the aid and health care provided the organization's volunteer surgical teams perform plastic (cleft lip/palate), ophthalmology (cataracts), ENT (ear, nose and throat), and orthopedic surgeries. Their physical therapist teams provide infant stimulation/massage on neglected orphans while their optometry teams give eye exams and donate glasses for needy people. They also provide health services in the areas of Primary Care, OB/GYN, Pediatric, Orthopedic and Specialty Care. Their medical teams work in remote clinics, mountain villages, and other places where routine care and assessment are normally not available. And in some developing countries, Northwest Medical Teams volunteers provide emergency medical services (EMS) training to medical instructors.

Northwest Medical Teams works in other countries in addition to those it helps in Africa. The list include: Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, Mexico, Moldova, Peru, Romania, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam

Wokring in all of these countries, they helped more than 2.6 million people in 2004. Since 1979 they have shipped and distributed $600 million in medical aid to 240 recipient partners in over 100 countries.

Additionally Northwest Medical Teams operates Mobile Dental Clinics in 27 Pacific Northwest counties in the U.S.

In the African nation of Burkina Faso they have projects to improve food security and farm production, and to provide wells, hygiene education, HIV/AIDS education and care, literacy, reforestation, and micro-credit loans.

They have responded to the drought situation in Ethiopia in collaboration with the Ethiopian community in Seattle and the Ethiopia Kale Heywet Church. Besides deploying teams, Northwest Medical Teams will send at least one medical supply shipment to Ethiopia.

Additionally, Northwest Medical Teams is sending teams of medical volunteers to provide care for thousands of families camped in makeshift housing near the capital city of Monrovia, Liberia.

There is a lot more that can be said about this fine organization, but to get more information it is best that you visit their web site at:

because there is so much more I have not had the time to tell you.

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