Monday, October 24, 2011

Bangladesh...purpose and will.

9000 miles and a left turn east from Phoenix is where we were for a week. Bangladesh. A Muslim country, one of the poorest in the world, close to 25% of the children under 5 years old never making it to their 6th birthday, and an average daily income of $2 for most of the working poor. Medical Mercy came to see the children. We did that and more. 21 team members: Sarjita, Lara, Vic, Bob, Kelly, Deanna, Anne, Heather, "Parks", Diane, Celia, Doreen, "Tico", Dave, Michael, Bill, Jill, Sue, Darlene, Blair and I.

In 3 full days and 2 half days of clinics we saw 918 medical patients, 88 dental patients

installed water filtration systems in 5 projects

taught comprehensive first aid and left an advanced first aid kit for each of the 5 projects

did nutritional assessments on all of the patients

did dental hygiene education

and collected all the information on all of the patients in a comprehensive computer database with pictures of each child seen.

Not to say that all of this was easy. Getting to Bangladesh was a trip we won't soon forget (Kuwait and Pakistan were unscheduled countries we visited). Getting back to Dhaka on the last day of clinics is also a trip we won't forget: of the 6 vans we had, 4 broke down during the 10 hour road trip back to Dhaka from Khulna. That said, the clinics ran well, pharmacy

was dynamic and we worked hard.

So here are the final thoughts. When we are in a country that has values different from what we believe in, we need to begin to understand our purpose: to serve, to be humble and to be compassionate. To all. Regardless. We were in a village where the imam of the village came and chose to sit with his entourage to observe the activities of our medical team.

He had the power to make trouble for us or not. I introduced my self, spoke with him, and we shared blessings on each other. His to me was Mohammed based, I to him was Christ based. We smiled at each other as we clasped our hands together, and then touched our hands to our hearts. mutual respect, mutual understanding, mutual acceptance for who we each were in God's eyes. He saw our children praying.

He saw how we took care of, cared about and cared for the children in his village. He came to me later and said thank you. I couldn't have asked for anything more. Perhaps he saw a little of what we did as a reflection of

of who we are. Perhaps he saw our purpose. To serve. Perhaps he saw the will. The will of our God who sends us out to serve. Perhaps we too saw what we were supposed to see. Children who are vulnerable, hungry, poor, and at times forgotten looking for a place in this world to experience life. In the few short days that we were there, I pray that we were able to do that. To give them a chance to experience a life that will be filled with God's love and grace. We gave them medicine, dental, first aid, clean water, and above all, we gave them love. Something I hope they never forget. For that is our purpose and will. To serve humbly, with compassion and love, giving and never taking, and remembering that we leave behind a chance for a better life.
In all things give thanks,


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bangladesh clinic day...when we think we've got it bad...

Not much to say after one sees a child like this.

We drove about 2 hours to a very remote village where we spent the day seeing over 200 children, and fair number of adults. Medical, dental, water filtration, public health education, and first aid training all done under the sun, heat unbearable, no wind, and some relief from the shade. A large Muslim population lead by an imam, were wary at first, then open to exams, then becoming increasingly anxious as the time approached for us to leave, knowing that many who had been waiting would not be seen. It is difficult to say "no more patients" today. The children were malnourished, sickly overall, tired and lacking any semblance of a happy emotion. I looked at their faces and realized how little they have to be joyous about. And we think we have it bad sometimes. I wonder just how much I could take living the life they live. Not much I bet. I probably would hope for the best, and expect the worst.

So the question posed is this: just how bad does it have to get for us before we throw in the towel and say I give up? From what I saw today, there were a whole lot of people who had thrown in the towel a long time ago, accepted the hand that had been dealt them, and learned to live with what they had. They had nothing. Not much to learn to live with. Did we make a difference today? Yes we did. Not by giving them medications, pulling teeth, bringing in a water filtration system, nor by teaching them first aid. What we did is validate those we saw as worthy of being recognized as human beings, worthy of being loved and cared about, and giving them a sense of dignity. One person even said as much. A mother of a disabled child knew that we could not do much for him. Small head, injured brain, unable to walk, nor sit. But the smile he gave us when we reached out to him and held him without shying away from his inadequacies, gave his mother validation as how ell she was caring for him and how much he meant to her. And how much he means to us. Life is what it is and face it; we don't really have it that bad, even on our worst days.

In all things give thanks,


Wednesday, October 19, 2011 it all that we expect?

In a country predominantly Muslim, we came and shared.

Some listened, some accepted, some walked away. A woman with 3 husbands, one of whom beats her. A mother of a young girl with a heart defect. A mother of a child with disabilities. A few hundred patients seen. All that we expected.
Another day and the clinic was the smoothest we've ever experienced. We drove a short hour to Jogipol where the Pastor had the clinic set up and ready to go. Individual exam cubbies were ready for us. The children came, we examined, we treated, we cared. Another day where the usual tracts were run: medical, dental, hygiene, first aid and water filtration. And here is where the story begins to stand out. Two weeks ago, the leadership of the project and church met and prayed for a water filtration system. They did not know we were bringing anything that resembled that. We pulled out the filtration system, attached it to a huge drum, and filtered water that was pure as our water in the US. Are prayers answered? You decide. We already know the answer.

In all things give thanks,


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bangladesh clinic day...when it all comes together

(internet is slow and cannot upload much; a picture now and more when I can; sorry about that)

And it did come together...

Six vehicles, 30 people, one and a half hour ride and a river crossing by ferry, is how we started the day today. Chalna project is an isolated community that hasn't seen medical care in over 15 years. The children were malnourished, some sickly, but all were laughing and smiling nonetheless. Prayer was the order for the children.

It was for us as well. A Hindu woman came to Christ, others heard, and wondered if we really were who we said we were. Servants. And we served. 200 medical patients, 19 dental patients (it takes a while to extract teeth; Dr. Bob and Diane were at it constantly).Public health education, dental hygiene, water filtration system, first aid training, nutritional assessments, medical examinations,and dental work were all being done simultaneously, the team taking on all facets of health intervention and training in a distant remote village in the southern part of Bangladesh. A ballet of sorts, one continuous act, and an encore. We came to a village and within 6 hours left them with a chance for a better life. A bold, ambitious undertaking, and perhaps a little glorified, but it worked. There is nothing better than the see the smile after something is given freely and taken freely as well, no strings attached. Unconditional love I believe it's called.

In all things give thanks,


Monday, October 17, 2011

Traveling isn't Bangladesh

Dhaka. Final destination via a scheduled stop in Dubai and a change of planes, but we were treated to an unscheduled stop in Kuwait City and Karachi, Pakistan. Strong headwinds across the northern hemisphere slowed us done considerably, bucked us from left to right and up and down, and ate up our fuel. Kuwait was a refueling stop. An hour and a half out of our way of route, then another hour and a half on the ground, and of course you guessed it...we miss our connecting flight out of Dubai. So on to Karachi, Pakistan, a 6 hour lay over then on to Dhaka. But there is someone in control of all this, isn't there? He intervenes, moves, chooses, and makes it all work because...well, because He can. We have miles behind us and many miles ahead of us, with lots to do, and still a long way to go once we get to Dhaka. Not much to do about it. No choices. We do what we can. And that is pray and have a positive attitude.
(24 hours later):
We are finally in Khulna. I stayed behind to wait for all the boxes of meds that never made it with us last night, the team went on ahead and ran a half day clinic seeing 100 patients and 15 dental. We are all finally together, meeds and equipment in hand, and full days of clinics ahead. The purpose? To ensure that the children we care about have a life they can enjoy and experience.

In all things give thanks,


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bangladesh and the troubles begin..

So much for blogging good news. This will be short just to give you an idea of what has happened, what is happening and what will happen. Short synopsis: we left Phoenix for Chicago, picked up the rest of the team, left Chicago for Abu Dhabi, drained the fuel tanks on the plane there due to head winds, stopped in Kuwait to refuel, got to Abu Dhabi late, missed our connecting flight to Dhaka, got a flight to Karachi, Pakistan in order to catch another flight to Dhaka, (or we could of stayed in Kuwait overnight...who wanted to do that-not!), got to Karachi, connecting flight to from Karachi to Dhaka delayed, spent 10 hrs in a transit area in Karachi, finally getting to Dhaka after leaving Phoenix 42 hours earlier, and got all our luggage but none of the 15 boxes of meds and supplies (almost 800 lbs of needed stuff). That's it. Done. Nothing we can do about it. Team spent the night in Dhaka and left early this morning for a 6 hour drive to the first clinic with the dental stuff, public health education stuff, nutritional assessment stuff, a few pills here and there that team members had in their personal belongings and stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs. They are going to run a clinic as best they can. I on the other hand am still in Dhaka waiting to go back to the airport this afternoon to see if the meds come in on the next flight. If they do, I make an 8 hour drive to the south of Bangladesh to catch up with the team sometime very late tonight. If the meds don't arrive....well, I don't really know what I'm going to do. The troubles we've seen. The anxiety of it all. The unexpected. The not knowing. It is what it is. And with all that I still say, in all things give thanks.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It begins tomorrow….

Tomorrow at 1:30pm we being the 36 plus hour trek to the southern part of Bangladesh, to visit 5 village projects and provide medical care to children who have never seen a physician or nurse in their life. A team of 21 servants are ready, over 800 pounds of medicines and medical equipment are pack, and we will start our challenge by trying to get through customs. So, let the prayers begin! First, that we are escorted through customs with no fees, confiscation, or hardships. Second, for safe travels in the air, on the dirt roads, and yes, on the skiffs and ferries that we will using to cross the rivers to get to the villages. Third, for God’s guidance in showing us those who seek Him. And fourth, for patience, health, and bonding between team members. I’ll be posting to the blog as often as internet availability allows, tweeting and posting short snippets on Facebook from the clinics using my trusty BB if I get service, and many of the tea m members will be doing the same. This will be one of the more challenging missions. Distance, no down time, little rest, and a lot of patients will be what we face. Nonetheless, we go, we do, we serve. Can’t ask for anything better, now can we? Come follow us. DSC02148

In all things give thanks,


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Haiti Wrap up…for now

imageMost of the team are still in Haiti, seeing children in 5 more clinics and working at the orphanage washing clothes, doing construction and caring for the 46 children that we have there. I had to return to give some scheduled lectures at the medical school where I teach the Ethics and Humanism curriculum.  The picture above is of  some of the orphans that I saw before I left Haiti yesterday. They are a little sicker than the other children we saw, but should do well.

We did what we came there to do: cholera education, nutritional assessment and rescue, and physical exams.  We will have seen over 1600 children by the time the rest of the team leaves. Interesting how we go with expectations of things gone sour due to the cholera and come back with satisfaction knowing that all the preparation, intervention and implementation of the prevention and education programs we put in place worked. I’ve been one for cauti0n over confidence. We were cautious in what we did, never getting too righteous about what we did. What was striking was the humility that each team member had. Too many times I’ve seen superiority complexes glazed in a thin veneer of concern. Not this team: Kelly, Michael, Tanner, Dave, Danielle, Allison, Annelyssa, Thelma, Michelle, Trisha, Lon, Deanna, Anne and Yolie.  Each had a pervasive concern for human welfare. So does MoM and Medical Mercy. Things will move slowly in Haiti as it does in many countries that suffer a poor infrastructure, a government that is far from stable and a physical country that is broken. I expect it to be many many years before we see significant changes overall. But…and this is the “but” that will make you smile. Our MoM children are far from that stagnant recovery. They are progressing at a fast rate, remaining healthy and growing. A few are outside the norm, but we identified them, and began efforts to begin moving them into the fold.

We’ll go back. Not right away, but sometime.We’re headed to Ethiopia and Bangladesh later on this year.  In the meantime, we’ve achieved a sense of “sustainability” of the medical care that the children need, the nutritional support they need, and the cholera education and prevention that they need.  Sustainability. Leaving in place a process that insures a long and healthy life, physically and spiritually. And so it ends, for now.

In all things give thanks,


Friday, January 07, 2011

Haiti Day 5

Just when you think all is well, something grabs your attention and you realize there is trouble out there. Today got my attention. We went to 2 projects, both on the way towards the border with the Dominican Republic, seeing about 200 children. Yesterday was easy. No drama, no significant illnesses, no attention grabbers. Today we saw sick children and it got my attention. Not many malnourished children, but more with chronic illnesses. I thought we had those children under control. Not so. There is a new wave of illnesses that have cropped up and we attacked them. Skin infections, pneumonia, and pustules. Did we miss something a year ago? No. Illnesses happens in some places more than others. That's why we go back again and again to make sure we're doing what needs to be done. The great majority of the children are doing well as you can see from the picture above. The thumbs up sign. But the child in the picture below is one of several that we spent time with. Medical Mercy does what it does because of these children. They got our attention today. We dealt with it and gave them a chance to live a better life. Trouble. Not anymore.

In all things give thanks,
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Haiti Day 4

You would think that there would always be something dramatic to write about, some miracle story, or a child who stood out because of some special need or story. The truth is, it's not always the case. Today was one of those days. (Well, except for one child. More on that later.) Two projects, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and a total of 180 children seen. No drama, no issues. Just a lot of beautiful children and a lot of love. So there is not much to report really. And that is just fine, isn't it? Having 180 healthy children, with only 2 under the age of 5 years moderately malnourished, no cholera, all smiling and playing is alright. It means that what MoM and Medical Mercy are doing for these children is working: spiritual teaching, education, preventative medicine and assured physical growth.

And now about that child. Dr. Dave a physician who came with us on this trip saw his last patient who wasn't a MoM child but a child of a MoM worker in the project. This young child has cerebral palsy and was already showing signs of significant arm and leg stiffness. He explained in gentle terms to the mother the reason why the child was like this and followed with genuinely compassionate words of encouragement and support for the mother. God's love for all regardless of who or what they are was his message and how blessed that child was to have a loving mother like her. It struck me that those words are the words that our God speaks to us: He loves us unconditionally with compassion and grace. And so when I reflect back on today and see how the children of MoM are doing I realize it's because of that unconditional love. From Him and us. It was a good day you see. Unconditionally loved and blessed. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

In all things give thanks,

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Haiti Day 3

The filth is overwhelming. The stagnant water, algae and garbage filled, surrounds the children. They live in it, play in it, and sleep in it. I wonder how they make it from day to day. From the picture above with the team at today's project, you can see what I'm talking about. I've been here 4 times in the past 15 months and it hasn't changed but the children have. With our aggressive cholera education and prevention program, we saw only a handful of children who had had cholera and did well, and saw no active cases. Our quick response and initiative paid off.

And what a difference food makes. A few calories, a little protein, carbohydrates and unsaturated fats, gives a child an opportunity to grow and live. That's what we've been seeing. Well fed children. A testimony to the MoM program of feeding children in the projects at least once a week if not more. I expected no less since we were aggressive last year in pushing nutrition as a priority.

That is not to say that we didn't see any children who were malnourished. We did. Not many though. The picture above is of a 4 year old boy who we identified today with our rapid nutritional assessment program and started him on the nutritional rescue program. Medika Mamba and of course vitamins.

We came, saw, treated, prayed, and loved. We ran 3 parallel tracts as planned: cholera education, nutritional assessment and rescue and physical exams. We had pharmacy running too as well as a streamlined registration process. All for the children. We are blessed to be where we and to do what we do. I hope that the children whom we saw today, will one day do the same for others. Our God has asked that of us. To be servants to others. He's asked that of me and I'm happy to be doing so. Today, tomorrow and always.

In all things give thanks,
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Haiti Day 2

He is 11 years old. Short, skinny, eyes that see little and withdrawn. He looks like he's 7. He is what we call stunted. Malnourished during the most important growing years, 6 months to 5 years. No chance now to catch up, no chance to make up the difference. What we could do is give him some high caloric Medika Mamba and hope he gains weight, feel better, and feel like a person again. Severe malnutrition does that to children. We have an aggressive program to prevent that in our children 5 years and younger and it is simply giving a balanced meal to the children each time they come to the project. Since we started this last year, the number of moderately or severely malnourished children under the age of 6 years has dropped significantly. We've identified just a handful out of the 226 children we saw yesterday.

We traveled a quarter of a mile up a river wash to get to a project, saw patients in the rain, and served those who came to see us. The team is doing well. Dave, Lon, Tanner, Michael, Kelly, Thelma, Allison, Annelyssa, Michelle, Deanna, Danielle, Yolie, Trisha, and Anne are serving. We're finished in Limbe and headed to Cap Haitien. The cholera is well controlled in our projects thanks to the program we put in place a few months ago when cholera hit. We are re-educating and reinforcing the information in each project. The nutritional assessment and rescue program is working and we are training key members of our projects to continue the assessment and treatment of the malnourished children we identified. Serving. It's a wonderful feeling. I wouldn't want to be without it.

In all things give thanks,
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, January 03, 2011

Haiti Day 1

With considerable effort, the twin engine 30 passenger plane lifted off the runway in Fort Lauderdale. Fully loaded, and short on fuel. One sacrifices fuel for passengers and baggage. That's the law of lift and weight in an airplane. We landed an hour later on a small island in the Bahamas to refuel and made our way to Cap Haitian. 3 hours later we were at our first clinic and in 2.5 hours saw 108 children, did physicals on them all, nutritional assessments, identified those who were moderately or severely malnourished, did cholera education, gave out vitamins, de-worming meds and other medications and finished up the day. It's all good. We saw some wonderful smiles, some very malnourished children and a community of children who loved being loved on and cared about. There is nothing more satisfying than doing what God tells us to do and we did that today. Sleep is calling. He is calling. I'll answer to both.

In all things give thanks,
David H. Beyda, MD
Medical Director
Medical Mercy
Mission of Mercy-"One child Matters"
cell: 602 228 8983

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Haiti: Again…

It’s an odd thing getting a glimpse of something you know well from a time somewhere in the distant past. That distant past for me was 32 years ago, when I spent several months in a refugee camp in Cambodia as medical director of pediatrics. I was a senior resident in pediatrics and had 6 months to go before I started my fellowship in critical care at Johns Hopkins. And here I was in Cambodia. How I got there, and how I got to finish my residency in a refugee camp is a whole different story. But happen it did. image

I look more or less the same after 32 years (“more” round, and “less” hair), and have been traveling the world doing third world medicine ever since. But what does all that have to do with the fact that tomorrow, a team of 14 of us leave for Haiti? Again? It’s the cholera thing. We had 2 epidemics in the Cambodian refugee camp while I was there: measles and cholera. I actually got measles encephalitis and was evacuated to Bangkok where I was in the  ICU for a week, comatose with cerebral measles. I woke up, had lost 15 pounds (it’s all back now thank you very much), and went right back to the refugee camp to keep working. That aside, it was the deaths that we saw. On day one of the refugee camp opening (around Christmas day 1980), I lost over 100 children. Every day was the same as waves and waves of refugees came over a mountain range being chased by communist insurgents. It finally slowed down, then the epidemics hit. Measles first. Hundreds of deaths from measles pneumonia, never seen here in the US. Then it was the cholera. Close quarters, hygiene issues (150,000 refugees cramped into about 10 acres), and poor control. I learned about cholera quickly, and how to treat it. I’ve never had to use that knowledge again until a few months ago. Haiti brought back the memories. The glimpses of those times, offer a valuable reminder that things sometimes don’t change. Poor sanitation, hygiene and dirty water, brings cholera to the forefront and with it its devastation. And that’s why we’re going. After my assessment trip a few weeks ago, it became clear that we needed to go back and reinforce the education and prevention programs we put into place. We’ll be doing that, examining all the children again, and doing a nutritional assessment on all of them. We’ll put those who are moderately or severely malnourished into a comprehensive nutritional ruse program using Medika Mamba (a peanut butter paste). We’ll go to 15 projects and see about 1700 children.

Glimpsing the past does change the way you look at things in the present. I know what needs to be done. I’ve seen it and have lived it. The team is ready, and we are off to face the battle. Bring it!

In all things give thanks,