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2014 was another year of steady progress for Healing the Children (HTC). This Annual Report summarizes the children from around the world with urgent medical issues that we were able to help, and highlights many of the specific projects and programs undertaken by our chapters to accomplish these outcomes. HTC celebrated its 35th birthday as a non-governmental charitable organization in 2014, and again demonstrated to the world our compassion - and the resolve of our many volunteers - to go “beyond the norm” to help the most needy of children. We all gathered last October in Spokane, Washington where HTC was “born” to celebrate, share memories, and discuss how to continue to become more effective and more efficient in order to help even more children.
The cover story for this year’s Annual Report focuses on one such initiative that shows great promise in helping us to accomplish that goal. While difficult to achieve, we do believe it is possible to work towards building and improving pediatric medical and healthcare resources in the developing countries where we work; and that this over time will allow our colleagues in those countries to be better able to help their children, relying less on assistance from HTC and other organizations with similar missions.
This is our ultimate objective. It takes a lot of work, continuity, and cooperation, but it is possible. The Special Feature section of our 2014 Annual Report highlights several such programs. We will always continue to help those children who cannot wait for these projects to take effect, but we need to work both for the immediate short term as well as this longer term goal if we are to make the progress that is required.
You may recall the old proverb. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” HTC is working hard to accomplish both.
For the past 35 years, Healing the Children has worked diligently to help children who suffer with serious medical conditions but have no access in their own countries to the medical care that could heal them.
The developments in technology and communication that have changed so many things in our lives will also change the way HTC addresses its mission. More and more, medical professionals in the countries we serve are telling us that they want our help in developing sustainable medical resources of their own. Our response is to sharpen our focus on training developing country medical professionals and on establishing and equipping in-country medical institutions. New technologies and new ways of communicating will certainly help us do this. Expanding or building relationships with similar interest U.S based teaching hospitals will greatly advance these programs.
In the end, our attention is fixed, as always, on the hurting child. The paths to healing are multiplying, but the destination is the same.
Our feature stories for this year’s Annual Report are examples of programs where HTC, with the critical support of volunteer medical professionals is helping to build stronger, self-sustaining medical resources with our partners in developing countries.
In 2009, HTC expanded its work in Ethiopia to help that country build its pediatric cardiac medical resources. HTC participated in a multi-NGO group effort to create, equip, and help train Ethiopian medical professionals and establish the first of its kind Pediatric Heart Hospital within Black Lion Hospital (BLH) in the capital city of Addis Ababa. HTC even sourced, funded, shipped and helped construct two catheterization laboratories, necessary to visualize the chambers and arteries of the heart and help treat any stenosis or other abnormalities.
Encouraged by that experience, and when attending the opening ceremonies for the Heart Hospital, the HTC Philadelphia/Delaware chapter met with the Chief of Pediatrics at BLH and an Ethiopian American pediatrician, Dr Ebba Ebba, to tour the pediatric wing of BLH, to assess their needs and see how HTC might further assist.
Desma Ferrell, the chapter’s Executive Director, recalls “I felt a cold sensation in my hand. I looked down and a small, beautiful Ethiopian girl of 3 or 4 had placed her hand in mine. I hugged her and she took me on a wordless, but powerful, tour of the 7th floor Pediatric Ward. After the tour, I never saw her again but I saw what I needed to see.”
The focus of the tour gravitated to children with tracheostomies who were virtually living their lives at BLH. Because their homes were in rural Ethiopia where there is no access to proper medical interventions, choking or any trach malfunction could be fatal and had been to many children. Desma also learned that there is not a single pediatric audiologist in this country of almost 100 million inhabitants.
A project to help create pediatric ENT support within Ethiopia began to take shape. A key volunteer, Dr. Glenn Isaacson, an Otolaryngologist from Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia was soon recruited to the core team. The expanded team returned to Addis Ababa for a meeting to outline key needs and commitments with medical professionals at Black Lion Hospital and Addis Ababa University (AAU) Medical School.
This ENT project, supported by HTC, is now six years in and has resulted in twice yearly trips to Ethiopia by Dr. Isaacson and his team from Temple University. They provide lectures and clinical classes both within and external to the OR’s of BLH for medical residents from AAU. In addition, they assist in the procurement of needed supplies, instruments and diagnostic equipment to help train newly educated Ethiopian ENT MDs who are then stationed throughout their country where needed.
Encouraged again by the success in establishing this ENT program, HTC Philadelphia/Delaware chapter has partnered with another such program in Ethiopia to focus on pediatric hand surgery. Dr Scott Kozin, CEO of Shriner’s hospital in Philadelphia and a prominent hand surgeon, has developed a team to help build this medical resource within Ethiopia. We hope to report on the results from this exciting new program soon.
In 2004, Pediatric Urologist and Professor of Surgery Dr. Martin Kaefer wanted to take a small specialty team from Indiana University to Guatemala City to work with our Healing the Children International Partner, Fundaçion Pediatrica Guatemalteca. Since Dr. Kaefer had previously travelled to Lithuania with the Michigan-Ohio Chapter, we continued the Chapter relationship. The annual November trips continued and with larger teams and added specialists, came the opportunity to operate on more kids and do more complex cases. Donated equipment and supplies brought by the teams were integral to the success of the trips. The word spread throughout Central America and children began to come from other countries for diagnosis and treatment.
Responding to the need for follow-up of the complex surgical cases, Dr. Kaefer and usually one or two others made (and continue to make) mini trips to Guatemala mid-year. This gave Dr. Kaefer the opportunity to work with and develop relationships with the medical staff at Roosevelt Hospital, which is the public hospital in Guatemala City. Dr. Randall Lou, a nephrologist there, was key in working with Dr. Kaefer to provide follow-up care for the operated children. Thus began the opportunity for Guatemalan doctors and other health professionals to come to Riley Children’s Hospital at Indiana University for further education and training. Dr. Kaefer saw this as an opportunity to help the Guatemalan doctors become self-sufficient in providing care to the children in their own country. Each year has brought more integration of health professionals and more sharing of knowledge, thus more in-country treatment opportunities for the Guatemalan children.
During the 2014 team visit, Dr. Kaefer met with the Guatemalan nephrologists and surgeons and proposed that in November 2015, Roosevelt Hospital host the first ever Guatemalan Pediatric Congress. The stated goals of the Congress will be to further the understanding of general practitioners in the areas of pediatric endocrinology, pediatric urology, pediatric surgery and pediatric basic life support. Pediatric anesthesiologists will also be included in this program. The very important issue to be addressed at the Congress is the logistical aspect of running fellowship programs in each of these areas. This would become a formal U.S./Guatemalan medical education program with long term positive results for the medical professionals and for the children of Guatemala and Central America. The next step after this Congress might be to expand into other specialties to further increase Guatemalan medical resources.
To make this happen, it takes medical professionals as dedicated and willing as Drs. Kaefer, Isaacson and Kozin and an experienced organization such as Healing the Children to lend their organizational expertise.We hope in the years ahead to help encourage and participate in many more programs like these underway in Ethiopia and Guatemala.
International Development Programs
In order to accomplish our mission to serve children, Healing the Children has developed several programs to facilitate our work. Chapters may participate in any of the programs that they deem compatible with their resources and local interests.
|Medical Teams Abroad||4175||176,247|
|Non-surgical and Special Programs||4255||50,853|
|International Medical Assistance Program||3||225|
|Country||Visits in 2014|
|Country||Visits in 2014|
|Colombia (1)||Guatemala (5)||Kazakstan (1)|
|Dominican Republic (7)||Haiti (5)||Kenya (1)|
|Ecuador (1)||Honduras (8)||Myanmar (1)|
|El Salvador (1)||Iraq (2)||Peru (4)|
|Venezuala (1)||Pakistan (1)|
|Increase/(Decrease) in Net Assets||$10,525||($61,984)|
|% Non-Program Overhead||2.38%||2.42%|
In 2014, HTC provided urgently needed medical assistance to a total of 8,365 children, and delivered $10.8 million of medical services and supplies.
Over the past 35 years, HTC has now provided medical assistance to 253,228 children and delivered over $697 million of medical services and supplies for children from over 100 countries.
2014 Program Results
2014 Geographical Impact
Each Healing the Children chapter operates autonomously and plans its programs to reflect the volunteer resources available in their chapter’s region and the interests of its volunteers, both medical and non-medical. Healing the Children is also fortunate to have a global network of International Partners located in many of the countries we are able to work in. These International Partners offer invaluable assistance and help us to identify the needs of children and pediatric resources in their countries, navigate the logistics and regulatory issues that must be broached to make our programs successful.
But more than anything else our programs, our outcomes in helping children around the world, are driven by our collective passion and ingenuity. Every year we ask our chapters to share examples of this passion, this ingenuity, with readers of this Annual Report. We hope you enjoy these samples of what we accomplished, what makes us continue on to help more and more children.
HTC Arizona assisted 3 children in 2014. 11-year old Zahraa, from Iraq, had urogynecological surgery. In addition, two prior amputees, Josue and Nelly from Honduras, returned for additional work on their prosthetic legs.
Healing the Children Florida/Georgia chapter provides services to children through all three of our core services: inbound children from developing countries; sending medical teams and equipment abroad to those countries; as well as providing support for children in our two states for items that they otherwise might have difficulties securing.
In total, we were able to arrange for over $2.5 million of support to the children we served, including $2.4 million of in-kind medical services, a further $75,000 of needed medical supplies and equipment, $20,000 for medical educational materials, and another $20,000 in needed services for our local kids program.
In 2014 our programs were expanded to include ancillary support services such as speech therapy for children in need of this that we encountered during our outbound medical mission program, and informational training on healthy eating and exercise in an effort to help reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes within our local kids program.
Our mission is to improve the health status of children in Ethiopia. Medical care, surgery, and rehabilitation are what we do directly on our two yearly ENT/AuD and Anesthesia teaching missions to Addis Ababa. Training the next generation of surgeons to carry on the work is a top priority. We co-ordinate our work with the ministry of Health and Addis Ababa University training programs. Our trip chief, ENT/Otolaryngologist Dr. Glenn Isaacson, has developed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Dept. of Otolaryngology Head and Neck surgery at Addis Ababa University to help build ENT resources in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a country of 96 million people, over half of whom are under the age of 16, with Somalian refugee camps on the east coast and Sudanese camps on the west.
So far on our 11 missions we have trained with 6 Resident Graduates who work in different parts of Ethiopia and fly in with their patients for our surgical team to work side-by-side with them for further skill development. They are the future of ENT in Ethiopia. There are also 10 current Residents in training, as the program is growing.
Aud (Audiology) is a crucial part of every mission trip as we assess the hearing loss of every child the ENT team selects for surgery. For the past 5 years we have been evaluating and fitting hearing aids on the children at Makinissa School for The Deaf. In December, 45 children received hearing aids at Makinissa and 65 at CURE Hospital.
We continue to work with other individuals and charitable organizations in the US and Europe interested in Otolaryngology in Ethiopia to coordinate our educational efforts. But we won’t lose sight of the individual child who needs our skills right now.
Because of the relationships we have developed in Ethiopia, other surgical specialists and NGO's are interested in traveling to Addis Ababa and offering their surgical skills to improve the lives of children. Our Healing the Children mission continues to grow.
Our Podiatry medical/surgical mission of over 30 volunteers from all over the US and a small contingent from Spain traveled last Sept. on our 12th consecutive weeklong trip to the Military Hospital in San Salvador. Our close collaboration with the Cuscatlán Rotary is crucial in making sure that our supplies are sent from the collection point in Miami and taken through Customs in El Salvador and are ready for us when we arrive. We typically screen more than 100 children on Sunday, prioritize our schedule, and begin operating on Monday.
Children who need an updating of their orthotics or new orthotic inserts in their shoes are sent to the Certified Professional Orthotist team to address their needs. Often used shoes from our many boxes of donated shoes replace the worn ones they have come in with. And when needed, a trip to Payless to make sure the child has the proper shoes for the new shoe insert may be required.
In all, 125 children were screened, 37 were operated on, and 72 received certified orthotics, for a total value of $515,500 in care, supplies and equipment.
In our 12 years, millions in donated medical care by over 350 medical professionals traveling to these countries has made a difference. We can tell the story in stats but it is the smiles of the children and their parents that is what ultimately matters. We heal the children.
This letter, translated from Spanish, from a father whose daughter we have been treating for several years tells the story in a different way. We operated on this young lady 7 years ago. She returned this year and still had a picture we had taken of her and our OR tech Ellen. Of course we had to recreate the photo!
"Whoever does not live for others, does not live for himself." Thanks for always being with these children and young people every year (eleven already) that need your help!!! People without your love and big heart for ensuring the needs of others fall into distance and despair. Our border is not geographical, since you stand on the border between love and neglect; between hope for a better tomorrow and fear of an uncertain future; between service and selfishness. Thanks again, because you have all left the best of yourselves in the depths of our hearts. Thank you for your selfless giving. Thanks for every one of your smiles and caresses for our children; thanks for every one of those small and great gestures of love. Please pass on to each of the members of the delegation of Healing the Children our deepest sense of gratitude and love. May God continue to bless each of your lives in everything you touch… it is good to know there are people like you who are part of this great mission of love. God Bless you all.
Greater Philadelphia Chapter
Late in 2014, we sponsored an ENT-based medical mission to Nicaragua. This trip was screening-only, during which we found four young women with moderate-to severe hearing loss. All of them could be helped with hearing aids, yet all came from poor families without the ways or means to obtain such devices. Upon returning from Nicaragua, we partnered with Mayflower Medical Outreach (MMO) an auditory aid organization with an office in Nicaragua, and referred the girls to them. Working with MMO and our HTC friends and contacts in Nicaragua, the girls were ultimately fitted with new hearing aids, absolutely free of cost. Here is a picture of one of them, hearing clearly the sounds of our world for the first time. Behind her was her mom, crying with joy and gratitude.
Also in 2014, we brought two young men here from El Salvador. Both suffered from severe tachycardia and both were completely cured of this ailment through an electro-physical, cardiac ablation procedure. This picture was taken after their final “exit” interview, showing their physician, their foster moms and their official Healing the Children representative. For the first time in their lives, these two boys will be able to run and jump and dance, and consume beverages such as coffee, tea or Coke, just like any other teenager. Such happiness!
Healing the Children Inland Northwest was pleased to serve these special community ministries:
Our Place: This ministry is ranked 5th with the highest poverty level in the state of Washington. We provided 69 layettes to newborn clients and also diapers, hygiene items, school supplies, backpacks and clothing to 102 children.
Beats and Rhythms: This is a camp for children with heart defects and it was started by Dr. Wes Allen who was our medical director until his fatal accident. We have helped campers with tuition and other needs for several years.
Oral Dental Rinse: We were able to send a shipment of this dental rinse to St. Kitts care of Dr. Patrick Martin.
Shriners Hospital: Once again we were able to bring back Mildred for the third year for a follow up evaluation after having a very high risk surgery. Shriners would like to evaluate her for another two years.
Mildred is from Honduras and when she came the first time at the age of 15 she weighed only 42 pounds and her back and chest were deformed. Needless to say she was in critical condition and needed a spine fusion. During her time with us she has gained 20 pounds. She needs yearly evaluations from Shriners and her surgeon to make sure that the fusion is stable.
Mildred in Spokane
Highlight of 2014: Healing the Children was started in 1979 in Spokane Washington. We were honored to host our National Convention celebrating our 35th anniversary in Spokane and we feel blessed to be able to serve so many children around the world.
Inland Northwest Chapter
The Kentucky chapter of HTC is pleased to report that it was able to continue to execute its main programs to help children in urgent need of otherwise unobtainable medical assistance during 2014.
As a smaller chapter we usually organize only one outbound medical team per year. In 2014 we continued our work and relationships with Manabí province, Ecuador and sent a urology and general pediatric surgery team to Jipijapa, the coffee growing capital of Ecuador. This was our fourth year of sending teams to Manabí province and we have developed a strong relationship with the local provincial government, hospitals, medical staffs, and most importantly the Ecuadorean people of this western seaboard province. During this trip we performed 41 surgical procedures valued at over $419,000.
We also brought in two children, 8 year old Snaider from the Santa Domingo de las Coronado area of Ecuador, in partnership with our colleagues at Shoulder to Shoulder at the University of Kentucky, and 6 month old Shahzaib from Pakistan. Shahzaib proved a difficult challenge but with a very rewarding and happy ending. Shahzaib suffered from severe congenital heart conditions, requiring oxygen en route from Islamabad to Louisville and Kosair Children’s hospital.
Accompanied by his mother Naheed, who had never traveled abroad or by herself, and with the kind assistance of our colleagues at Airline Ambassadors and American Airlines Miles for Kids, we finally were able to make the travel connections after three failed attempts and the clock ticking for Shahzaib. The surgery was successful and we navigated some difficult moments in recovery. If a picture is “worth a thousand words” we hope you enjoy the picture they sent to us nine months later from Islamabad accompanied by a glowing report of continuing good heart health and growing up as every young boy should!
We are very thankful for all of the medical professionals, airlines associates, and host families and members of our board of Advisors for donating their time, talents, and know-how to help these children!
Our referrals for our International Inbound children typically come from our established International Partners. There are times, however, when we receive requests for help from areas not served by these partners. This can present challenges as we work with people unfamiliar with the entire process of passports, visas, air travel, the seemingly endless demand for documentation, pre-travel laboratory tests, and more documentation and red tape. In these cases, communications are often unreliable and travel generally involves complex itineraries and long, tiring days. The rewards, however, are great: children are healed and Healing the Children gains new contacts in new places. Here are brief profiles of two such children.
Inn Ding Khong Mai - Bethany to her U.S. friends - was living in an orphanage in Myanmar. Her parents had been murdered by the Myanmar military in a genocidal operation against the Kachin people. Her relatives had then arranged for her to become a Buddhist nun, even though she was a Christian, but she fled the monastery and was rescued by a Kachin pastor who took her to the orphanage. Bethany had a major problem with her eyes, which were severely crossed. She had unsuccessful surgery in Myanmar and her vision was worsening. Through a series of Stateside connections, Dr. Robert Hagerty, president of Mercy for the Children, Myanmar, and director of the orphanage made connections with Healing the Children. We were able to bring her for very successful surgery.
Daniel AlPatros, age 13 months, is from northern Iraq and his native language is Assyrian. His serious heart condition could not be treated in Iraq or any neighboring country. Mom and Dad frantically searched the internet for help, finally connecting with the Iraqi Human Rights Society and member Samira, who happened to be located in Michigan. Through a mutual acquaintance, Samira connected with HTC. After it was settled that Daniel could be treated in Michigan, Samira worked hard as our new liaison and Daniel had his successful surgery in Michigan.
No, your eyes didn’t deceive you. “Dump” is exactly what we mean. Here’s the background. The Guatemala Pediatric Foundation is our longtime partner in our team’s work there. In 2003 the Foundation established CEDEIN, whose name is a Spanish acronym for “Center for Holistic Care.” CEDEIN provides gynecologic, pediatric, general medical and dental care and also has a meal program for children. In addition, with the guidance of its medical director, Dr. Martha Julia Velasquez, its staff organizes and leads medical trips to a number of small, poor communities in other Guatemalan provinces.
But still… why a dump? The answer is that CEDEIN recognized the desperate needs of children and families living in neighborhoods adjacent to the Guatemala City landfill - many of whom survive by scavenging at the dump for things that can be sold - and established a free clinic there. When they looked for assistance, our pediatric team out of Indiana University, which has been working in Guatemala for years, stepped up and became involved in CEDEIN’s work there. The relationship was strengthened by team leader Dr. Martin Kaefer’s sister, Dr. Maria Kaefer, who travels with the team to provide nonsurgical medical care to its patients. She visited the CEDEIN camp at the dump and was appalled at conditions there (which is just how the team’s involvement had begun). She inspired the team’s non-medical donations, including gifts of clothes, lots of shoes, and funds; and this year, money to repair the dump clinic’s cold storage, so that its meal program can continue to grow. Dr. Maria’s involvement also involves her clinic in Minneapolis, which donates materials it no longer needs or cannot use, but which will be very valuable at the dump clinic.
At the dump, the only requirement for children to receive medical treatment and meals is that they do their homework after school. One hundred and fifty kids are meeting that requirement right now, and their lives are being changed, one day at a time.
Our most sincere thanks go to our so-very-generous Indiana University medical volunteers and all who support our efforts in Guatemala. In the words of the CEDEIN staff, “We were filled with happiness to know that you have supported us in fixing our cold storage. There are still human beings like the urology mission team whose heart is so great that it helps us with necessary causes, as in this case one that will benefit our children who live at the city landfill. Please know our great gratitude, we cannot pay you but may God continue to reward you in your noble profession.”
In 2014, the New Jersey Chapter brought 13 children to the U.S. through our International Inbound Program to receive donated medical care from area hospitals and medical professionals. The children all stayed with wonderful volunteer host families for the duration of their stay. Children came from the Dominican Republic, Peru, Kazakhstan, Kenya and Honduras. Some of the children were return cases; receiving new prosthetic legs. One very special boy, Cesar from Peru received life saving surgery for a large benign tumor of the brain. HTCNJ continues to be thankful for all the wonderful volunteers we have that help make our Inbound Program a huge success!
Healing the Children New Jersey’s Domestic Aid Program assists children in New Jersey who are suffering from a medical illness or developmental disability. HTCNJ offers financial assistance to help offset some of the expenses incurred when a child has a disability. The Domestic Aid Program assists with expenses such as medications, hearing aids, eyeglasses, special needs programs, summer camps and adaptive equipment. In 2014 HTCNJ assisted 66 individual children throughout New Jersey.
Aasim, age 4, suffers from autism. HTCNJ helped his family purchase a sturdy stroller for special needs children.
Matthew, age 2, has a diagnosis of developmental delays. HTCNJ purchased a calming center, a device used to help improve sleeping patterns.
Also, through our Domestic Aid Program, HTCNJ partnered with Cedar Crest Village in Pompton Plains, NJ and Weichert Realtors of Mendham, NJ and collected over $1,600 worth of holiday gift cards to be distributed to pediatric oncology patients at St. Joseph’s Medical Center and for children who reside full time at the Wanaque Rehabilitation Center in Haskell, NJ.
New Jersey Chapter
During 2014 the Northeast Chapter sent out 8 medical teams to 3 countries to provide surgery and other services for children in need. 157 members traveled with these teams; 54 were new members. These teams together screened 753 children and operated on 483 children. A total of 568 procedures were performed (some had multiple procedures). Each of these teams also delivered and donated many cartons of medical supplies and equipment to the hospitals where these surgeries were completed. The countries visited were: Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. Our teams consisted of 5 Cleft teams, 2 Cleft teams with a Speech and Language Component, and 1 Burn team.
The Speech and Language team, which included a laryngologist, traveled to Peru with our Cleft Team. The team brought hearing screening equipment with them and set up in an auditorium to provide lectures, and answers to questions of parents whose child had undergone palate surgery. They worked with patients after surgery to help the children develop good speech skills, and feeding and swallowing therapy with their new palates. For babies, they worked with the moms on breast feeding challenges for babies that were not yet able to have corrective palate surgery during this visit.
The Medical Teams Abroad Program in 2014 provided $2,109,180 in-kind value of medical services and $501,500 worth of medical supplies donated, for a grand total of $2,610,680 value of in-kind services and supplies.
In our International Inbound Program, HTCNE has been bringing Sol, stricken with severe scoliosis, to the United States over the past 10 years, as her surgeries needed to be completed in stages.
In January, HTCNE brought wheelchair bound Sol and her mother from their homeland in Mexico to the States so Sol could have the final stage of the long awaited major scoliosis surgery. HTCNE worked with the surgeons and medical staff, who graciously donated Sol’s surgeries and post medical care. In October, with the assistance of HTCNE, Sol and her mother returned to the States for follow-up appointments with her surgeons and doctors. We are happy to report Sol is doing well, and doesn’t require the use of a wheelchair. Medical services provided in-kind: $967,617.
Domestic Kids Program
On a local level, our Domestic Kids Program collaborated with a local organization on providing flu shots to children in our community. Through the generous support of local donors, HTCNE provided free flu shots to seventy children in October 2014.
To date Healing the Children Northeast has helped nearly 45,000 children around the corner and around the world.
Healing the Children Northeast enjoys strong local and regional support for our programs. Take a look at some of these recent examples of community support and engagement:
Thanks to the dedication of our volunteers, we were able to support five medical teams abroad.
In February our flagship audiology team continued their long standing work in Guatemala. This program has successfully achieved the goal of sustainability. With well over a decade of dedication in the country, Dr. Mike Mallahan and his team not only provided hearing aids and hearing evaluations to countless children, they have managed to train in-country personnel as audiology technicians to continue their work and service hearing aids in between team visits.
In May our Haiti team continued to train and certify teenagers as medical facilitators.
In August the Guatemala audiology team brought dedicated University of Washington students to continue to promote sustainable developmental goals of the program.
In November two teams went to Guatemala. One team continued with the audiology program and another team provided ear nose and throat surgery.
We all share a strong vision and commitment to promote sustainability in all of our initiatives. Thank you for your own personal contributions and willingness to help steer this fleet of dedicated ships, all bound for a better future for our global children.
After the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, the Oregon Western Washington Chapter of Healing the Children responded with a lasting commitment to Haiti.
The crisis in Haiti continues...
ORWWA has taken a leadership role in sustainable medical development in Haiti. In addition to our direct aid to children through medical teams in Haiti and our international inbound program, we are also working to improve the medical infrastructure in Haiti. Our training programs for teenagers are one example. The need for first aid training was identified in a community needs assessment, so our ongoing medical missions help to train and certify teenagers as medical facilitators.
Our international inbound program is happy to report that all children returned home with the blessing of healing.
Alejandra was born to a couple who realized early on that she did not respond to loud sounds during festivals or buses backfiring outside her home. At age 2, she and her parents traveled to Guatemala City and were told that Alejandra was deaf and nothing could be done for her. In 2004 at age 8 Alejandra was seen by an audiologist with a HTC medical team. Alejandra was fitted that day with hearing aids and was able to hear her mother's voice for the first time. Alejandra has been followed every year by visiting HTC medical teams. Regular follow up care is provided by Guatemalan audio techs trained by HTC team members. This past fall, Alejandra graduated from a teacher training program to become a teacher of children with developmental delays. We are excited to see Alejandra each year.
Oregon/Western Washington Chapter
Healing the Children Rocky Mountains, in partnership with HTCNE, returned to Sergio E. Bernales National Hospital in Lima, Peru for another medical mission abroad in November 2014. The mission was a great success. The team of 31 - 20 of whom came from Colorado and Utah - screened 77 patients and performed 80 procedures on 59 patients, some patients receiving more than one procedure. Many of our patients were returning patients whom we had seen in past missions. It was a pleasure to be reunited with them and provide them with follow up care and secondary procedures. The team was led by Dr. Ryan Brown from Denver.
One very special 8 month old girl named Kihara was born with a bilateral transverse cleft lip. This happens in less than 1 in 80,000 births. The deep horizontal groove across her face belied a split in the underlying muscles, which left Kihara with a constant frown and inability to move her mouth at all. Liquid would leak out of the corners of her mouth when she tried to drink. Her parents had travelled all over Peru to many hospitals and surgeons and could not find anyone who had expertise in treating this condition. Our volunteer medical team met them on our first day in Lima, Peru and offered her surgery for her transverse cleft. Her parents were overjoyed and her mom wanted to take pictures of her daughter with her surgical team so that she could always show Kihara the volunteers who came from far away in the United States to help her. Her mother kept crying tears of joy and through her tears stated that we were an answer to all of her prayers. You can see the before and after pictures of Kihara attached. The post picture is 3 months after surgery and you can see that for the first time in her life - she has a beautiful smile!!
Rocky Mountains Chapter
In August 2014 a Pediatric Plastics team returned to Guatemala City where they screened 32 children and provided surgery for 26. We were hosted by Fundaçión Pediátrica Guatemalteca at Hospital Niño Jesus in Guatemala City. The photograph below on the left is of a young girl who had extra digits removed from her hands and reminds us of the most payment our teams receive for doing this humanitarian work. The photo on the right shows four of the medical school residents who observed or participated in the surgeries under the supervision of the team. (Our surgeons are left and second from right.)
It is very difficult to keep track of children in the countries we visit to know if our efforts have paid off. But we had a very encouraging experience during the 2014 trip.
Karla was 9 yrs. old and in bed when her feet were struck by a grenade during Guatemala’s Civil War in the 1980’s. Local doctors grafted her feet as best they could, but her feet often bled and she was seldom without pain. When a HTC team from Michigan/Ohio visited San Cristobal Verapaz, Guatemala, the family sought help.
Healing the Children arranged for Karla to have surgery in Michigan where she returned as an adult and today lives happily with her husband and family.
While visiting her family in Guatemala in August 2014, Karla heard that HTCSW was there and immediately came to offer assistance. She spent two days with the team translating and putting mothers at ease.
In addition, to the plastic surgery team, our cardiologist traveled to the Assade clinic located in the small rural village of San Luis Itzapa and screened 46 children for potential heart concerns. While there he was asked to travel to the home of a young girl who was to have surgery on her hip the next day by another visiting medical team. The photos below show Sara on the left and her mother and siblings in their home several miles from the village. The surgery went quite well and fortunately there were no heart concerns.
On a local New Mexico level, through our Chapter’s domestic children’s program, The Hardship Relief Project, we assisted 21 children with medications, dental care, and gas cards for travel to doctor appointments, etc. This project partners with local healthcare providers who are aware of their patients’ need for financial assistance. In 2014 HTCSW added two new co-operating partners bringing the total to nine. The family of the twins shown below, who were born preterm at 28 weeks, needed a double stroller for bus rides to the doctor visits once they went home from the NICU.
Our Future Plans: In 2015 HTCSW plans to send surgical teams to Yantalo, Peru and Santiago Texacuangos, El Salvador; our local hospital has agreed to accept a baby with a heart condition for surgery; and we hope to double the number of children participating in the Hardship Relief Project.
Healing the Children Wisconsin made it possible for former patient, David from Nicaragua, to make a positive difference in his community. As a teenager, David came to Milwaukee in 2000 for treatment of bi-lateral club feet. He was abandoned by his parents at a young age and left with distant relatives. As a result of this event, David learned to be fiercely independent early on in his life. After discovering that a medical team from Madison, Wisconsin was coming to Nicaragua, the fifteen year old traveled from his hometown to Rivas: a 250 mile journey he courageously made alone to seek medical treatment. Due to the long term treatment required, orthopedic surgeons referred him to Healing the Children Wisconsin. It didn't take long for David to make his way into the hearts of his foster parents, Joe and Sara Roman. He stayed with the Romans for 14 months during treatment before returning to Nicaragua. They have a close-knit relationship to this day.
David’s hometown, the village of Teote, is a rural, impoverished community that lacked institutional support for education, as well as the means to provide the necessary infrastructure and educational materials. Recently, though, David led the charge in his community to obtain a parcel of land from village officials with the dream of building an elementary school. After he secured the land, David asked Healing the Children to help him fulfill this dream. Healing the Children Wisconsin raised the necessary funds and construction started in the fall of 2014. David was on-site every day to oversee the creation of the three room elementary school, which now serves 80 children. The school opened on February 15, 2015 with a community celebration - students reported to their classes the next day.
Lining up for the first day of school.
Healing the Children Wisconsin collaborated with a unique daycare facility called Penfield Children’s Center. The center helps infants and young children with and without disabilities reach their full potential through education, therapy services and family counseling. They offer on-site speech, physical and occupational therapy as well as special educational services. Healing the Children Wisconsin donated funds to purchase medical supplies used in those therapies.
Additionally, Healing the Children Wisconsin financially assisted the Illinois/Indiana Chapter’s annual outbound medical trip to Rivas, Nicaragua.
The Nicaraguan airport was a hot and crowded place,
And nowhere could I find even one familiar face.
My journey to this country had been made with all due speed:
For I was there to escort a child in desperate need.
The youngster’s name was Pablo and ‘twas he and I alone,
Who’d go from Nicaragua and the loving home he’d known
To a stranger’s house so far away he couldn’t understand,
To an unfamiliar culture in an almost-magic land.
His parents saw me instantly; their eyes just seemed so sad
As they steeled themselves to give to me the only child they had.
I processed both the tickets and checked the baggage too.
It seemed to be one hectic blur, when finally we were through.
Then the dreaded moment came for his folks to say goodbye,
And as they placed him in my arms they both began to cry.
Pablo, too, expressed his fears by sobbing mournfully,
And joining in them all were the tears that came from me.
I carried little Pablo to our seats out on the plane,
While thinking of his parents, who had been in so much pain.
“Let our precious boy be healed” - This they both did trust and pray.
Yet they couldn’t hide their anguish as they saw us walk away.
In another crowded airport, other folks began to wait:
A nervous foster family drew together at the inbound gate.
The mother held a teddy bear, the father a balloon,
Waiting for a frightened boy and hoping it was soon!
After seven tiring hours we landed at O’Hare,
And then I gave him over to the foster family there.
I placed the sleepy Pablo into his new mom’s arms
And smiled at how trustingly he gave in to her charms.
The next few months passed quickly for most everyone involved.
Pablo’s desperate problems were, through surgery, all solved.
And soon his wondrous doctors found him absolutely healed
And so to me, “Please take him home,” his family appealed.
Then the dreaded moment came for his folks to say goodbye.
As they placed him in my arms again, they began to cry.
And Pablo, too, expressed himself by sobbing mournfully,
And joining in them all were the tears that came from me.
This time, our airplane ride was happy and sublime,
And healthy Pablo laughed and played throughout the flying time.
I had taken from this country a sick child full of fright,
I now returned him gladly to a future that was bright.
In the window of the airport I saw his mom and dad.
They pointed and they shouted and they grinned - they were so glad!
Their tears of sorrow now were changed to those of utter joy:
For I, the lucky escort, brought them home their precious boy.
-Jeff Degner, Illinois/Indiana Chapter Director
- Terry Bobbitt, American Airlines flight attendant
Thank you for reading the stories of many brave children and learning exactly why Healing the Children envisions a world where every child has access to medical care, regardless of circumstance. If you were touched by a story in any way and would like to get involved, Healing the Children would love to hear from you.
Here are a few ways you can help:
How You Can Help