Medical Teams International is a non-profit organization that’s been at the forefront of aiding the survivors of natural disasters and various refugee crises around the planet since 1979. Since their inception, they’ve run off public donations and grants from the United Nations and with an unprecedented transparency put that money to use like no other organization, helping hundreds of millions of people in need in ways no federal organizations or nations seem willing or able to, fueled by dedicated volunteers with real backgrounds in various medical fields, including psychological. They are currently actively set up in Guatemala, Liberia, Turkey, Syria, Uganda, Tanzania, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Cambodia. They mobilize almost immediately when disaster hits, and there are now parts of Africa where they are their sole source of care. Additionally, they also started a local dentistry service run by volunteers in an RV that serves the local community under the Burnside Bridge.
Another thing they do is their Real Life Exhibit, an immersive self-guided tour through representative rooms that take you the different areas they serve, with rooms set up to resemble real instances of destroyed and underserved cities and villages, with drawings, photographs, videos, and quotes by and featuring the real victims/survivors, most of whom are women and children. They have weekend open houses every month, but are otherwise only available by reservation, albeit for free. I figured I’d apply for one and within 24 hours had a visit confirmed.
We were welcomed by an upbeat but grounded and articulate woman. We were there for almost two hours walking through the separate rooms, each representing different countries reeling from different issues, all experiencing unimaginable trauma, loss, and daily struggle. It was overwhelming and humbling to walk through, and infuriating knowing how avoidable so much of this disease, poverty, and death was if it weren’t for capitalism and nations.
“For myself, for my friends, for my family, forever. I’ll take this to the bitter end”
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