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The Tigard nonprofit steps in as the Caribbean country struggles with political upheaval and natural disasters.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - Gloria Schwindt helps sort and package a variety of medical supplies headed for Haiti, part of Medical Teams Internationals efforts to help the country hurting from a recent earthquake.In an effort to help out Haitians impacted by August's magnitude-7.2 earthquake in Haiti, Medical Teams International is sending badly needed supplies to a rehabilitation center in that country.

Last week, volunteers for the Tigard-headquartered nonprofit agency were busy packaging and sorting supplies headed for Haiti, an island country about the size of Maryland in the Caribbean Sea.

"We started fundraising immediately," said Victoria Wilson, a marketing and PR specialist for the organization. "We've had a really good response."

To date, Medical Teams International has raised an estimated $50,000 for the earthquake-relief effort.

Boxes of bandages, wound care kits, walkers, syringes, crutches and more were packaged and placed on pallets last Tuesday, Aug. 24, all headed for FONTEN, a rehabilitation facility in southern Haiti.

Those will be used to aid those suffering from broken limbs or who suffered injuries during the earthquake, which has killed more than 2,000 Haitians.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - Bandages and other essential medical items are being shipped to Haiti thanks to Medical Teams International, a Tigard-based nonprofit.

The orthopedic supplies were donated by Providence.

Gail Mannex, distribution center manager at Medical Teams International, estimated that five or six pallets of supplies were to be sent to the rehab facility.

While originally part of Medical Teams International's presence in Haiti, the FONTEN rehabilitation clinic has been its own organization since the non-profit's exit from that country in 2015.

"This is a big deal for them," Mannex said of the supplies. "We always want to go in and then help, and then go back in and help again when it's needed … instead of just staying for 30 years."

The areas hit during the most recent earthquake weren't as highly populated as the 2010 quake. That quake killed between 100,000 to 300,000 individuals.

"We're actually hoping to maybe get into a regular rhythm with this group," said Mannex. "We're just getting ready to roll with whatever happens next."

In addition to the earthquake, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of Tropical Storm Grace, which rolled over the island of Hispaniola in mid-August, Haiti has experienced political unrest since the July 7 assassination of the country's president, Jovenel Moïse.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - Volunteers sort through boxes in Medical Teams Internationals large warehouse last week, searching for walkers and crutches to send to Haiti.

As a result, some airlines have pulled out, said Mannex, who noted that they are also sending supplies to a hospital in Haiti.

"It's just finding available space on cargo planes or working with other partners that are going in," she said.

While the relief efforts are focused on Haiti, Wilson said Medical Teams International has begun a large response program in Ethiopia.

"It hasn't really been in the news a lot, but there's a huge civil conflict going on," Wilson said, referring to clashes between government forces and rebels in the northern region of Tigray. "We just started a program out there, and we're hiring people from Ethiopia and the surrounding regions."

The organization has an estimated 2,000 employees worldwide, 1,800 of them Uganda. Medical Teams helps run more than 70 health facilities in that East African country, southwest of Ethiopia.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - Tigards Medical Teams International has a large warehouse for shipping medical supplies to needy countries around the world.


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