Women with Heart: International Women’s Day at Medical Teams

First published on March 7, 2024 by Medical Teams International.

This International Women’s Day,  we’re going on a trip around the world! Today, meet some of the incredible women we serve alongside at Medical Teams! From Colombia to Uganda, they’re making their communities healthier and stronger. Whether they’re reducing the newborn mortality rate in Ugandan refugee settlements like Rachael, or taking care of their families in the U.S. like Aileen, they’re all having an extraordinary impact on the people around them. We know that when women with heart are leading, the world is a healthier place.

Meet 8 women with heart:

Rachael: Transforming Health Care for Mothers


When Rachael first began working for Medical Teams more than a decade ago, she remembers how overwhelmed she was when she first arrived at her new job in a Ugandan refugee settlement. But she was especially affected by the mothers she met – their pain over losing their children deeply upset her.

She says, “I asked myself, ‘God, what is this?’”

But Rachael has a strength of spirit and faith that carried her through. With community-led health interventions, they began transforming care at the refugee settlement. They implemented everything from a community health worker program to an operating theater for emergency C-sections. Today, thousands of lives have been saved because of one woman! Rachael is the kind of person we celebrate on International Women’s Day… and every day.

Margri: Connecting Women to Care


When Margri left her home in Venezuela for the promise of Colombia, she was terrified. She’d never left her children before. She didn’t know anyone in Colombia. She wasn’t sure exactly how she’d make money. She only knew she had to try.

“I wanted to fight for my children,” she says, emphatically.

After Venezuela’s economy collapsed, Margri couldn’t get the medication her son needed. So she made the courageous decision to fight for her family and leave Venezuela. In Colombia, she struggled to find her way. But she knew she needed a community. That’s when she found Medical Teams!

As a volunteer, she connects other Venezuelan women like herself to medical care. She knocks on doors, shares resources, and comforts her neighbors when they’re struggling. Women like Margri make communities healthier!

Te’emti: Supporting Women in Business


Te’emti, a business owner and community leader in Esret, has made it her life’s mission to support the other women in Ethiopia around her. She’s resilient, courageous, and always ready to lend a helping hand.

But when she started to experience severe abdominal pain, she was the one who needed care. That’s where Medical Teams came in. They treated her severe urinary tract infections over a period of 5 months, where Te’emti regularly came in for treatment and check-ups. For Te’emti, who’s dedicated her life supporting other women in her community, being cared for was no small gift.

She says, “I’m grateful to have found the support and care that I needed at this health center.”

Today, Te’emti is back in her role as a mentor and leader for women in Esret. With her health restored, she’s able to keep lifting other women up. Being able to care for women like Te’emti is just one small way we can help communities!

Florance: Turning Pain into Power


Florance’s wide smile and easy manner belie her inner strength – she knows loss, and has overcome extraordinary obstacles. She and her husband left behind everything they knew to escape violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and her father died in the war. Years later, when her son, Thiery, fell deathly ill, she thought of the grief of losing her father. She wasn’t sure she would survive losing her son.

Thankfully, Thiery was treated at a Medical Teams clinic for malaria and malnutrition. Over the next few months, he would recover fully. Florance was grateful for her son’s health, but she didn’t stop there. She never wanted another mother to worry like she did. So, alongside one of our nutritionists, she began teaching other women in her community how to grow gardens and prepare nutritious meals for their families.

“When I’m teaching them,” Florance says, “I feel so empowered.”

We’re grateful for women like Florance, who turn their pain into power. Because of her, other families are stronger and healthier!

Aliona: A Pharmacist for Hope


Aliona, a pharmacist, fled to the town of Izmail when the conflict in Ukraine began. Her husband joined the army, and she left with their children for safety. Though she acknowledges that she’s afraid and exhausted, she also jumped at the chance to volunteer at the Medical Teams pharmacy.

Three days a week, she spends her mornings in the small, heated room stocked with medicine, taking orders and distributing stocks. She’s been able to connect with other women and strengthen her sense of community in the midst of a dark time.

“This has been the most difficult year of my life,” she says. “At the same time, I’ve learned who I can count on and who will support me. Even here at the pharmacy I’ve found an amazing network of women who stand by my side.”

Even though it’s been challenging, Aliona says she’s not ready to give up hope yet. It’s women like her who help others stay strong, healthy, and hopeful.

Salma: Fighting for Women in Sudan


When Salma graduated with a master’s degree in public health, she wasn’t thinking about being a role model – she just wanted to help women in her country stay healthy. But today, as a community health worker supervisor for Medical Teams, she’s realized that she is setting an example for other women like her to follow!

Salma’s known for saying, “If you start with the community, you start with the root!” It’s a philosophy that’s guided her well in her role, where she trains and coordinates our community health volunteers. With her guidance, they educate and connect women to care in the refugee camps we work in.

Salma says, “This is my wish – to enhance any women in my country to get an education, and that way she will survive, and the coming generation will survive.”

The impact of role models like Salma is hard to estimate. But thanks to her, thousands of women have someone to look up to – and someone who’s supporting them.

Daphine: Fueled by Faith


Daphine, whose kind smile and warmth instantly put her patients at ease, knew she wanted to be a midwife from a young age. She went to nursing school, but her heart has always been in helping mothers welcome their babies into the world. She quickly knew midwifery was right for her.

Today, as a midwife with Medical Teams, she helps mothers welcome their babies into the world every day. Her faith helps her stay grounded and calm in moments of crisis at the clinic. Being a midwife isn’t easy, especially in the refugee settlement Daphine works in.  When Daphine isn’t working, she often goes to the church near her house for quiet reflection and prayer.

“I’m a fan of prayer.” Daphine smiles peacefully, and says, “We stay near the church and when I’m not here, I usually go by the church to talk to God.”

Aileen: Mothering Through Her Grief


When Aileen’s mother was first diagnosed with brain cancer, she was devastated. Though her mother would go into remission and survive another decade, it was still a long road for her family. Throughout her mother’s illness, Aileen was by her side. Together with her brother, they took classes so they could care for their mom at home until she passed away in December of 2022.

Aileen has also taken responsibility for her youngest siblings, and now cares for them alongside her own children. At just 24, she’s shouldering an enormous amount of responsibility. But she’s adamant that she keeps her family together.

“At the end of the day, we’re all we’ve got,” she says.

When she came into a Medical Teams clinic recently with tooth pain, our volunteer dentist and team were more than happy to take care of her. Removing a painful tooth was just one small way we could help ease her way. Caring for her own children and siblings while grieving the loss of her mother is no small feat! Her commitment to her family is admirable, and definitely worth celebrating on International Women’s Day!  

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About Angels in Medicine

Angels in Medicine is a volunteer site dedicated to the humanitarians, heroes, angels, and bodhisattvas of medicine. The site features physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other healthcare workers and volunteers who reach people without the resources or opportunities for quality care, such as teens, the poor, the incarcerated, the elderly, or those living in poor or war-torn regions. Read their stories at www.medangel.org.

Interested in writing for Angels in Medicine? Know about an Angel we should interview? Drop me a note at harry@medangel.org.

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