Students from the International Development course visited the REAL LIFE Exhibit hosted by Medical Teams International (http://www.medicalteams.org). The exhibit, which is hosted in a large warehouse, gave the class an opportunity to see and learn about the lives of people affected by disaster, conflict, and poverty around the world—and then they learn how to take action and make a difference.
The eight places they visited around the world were:
- A portrayal of the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (“Yolanda”) in the Philippines
- A room with a 25 foot tsunami wave
- A Ugandan camp for refugees from neighboring countries
- A Haitian earthquake site and a tent camp where homeless Haitians are living;
- A Cambodian village where mothers and children struggle to survive and thrive
- A Mexican garbage dump
- A Guatemalan community where children die from preventable illnesses
- A Mobile Dental unit where children and adults in our local communities receive care
Each student journaled their thoughts and feelings as they walked through the large exhibit. Walls displayed drawings made by children in the disaster zones as well as their stories. The PBC students wrote messages, prayers and thoughts to these children. One student shared:
The part of the exhibit that affected me the most was the video of the woman whose husband had died forcing her and her children to seek refuge in another place. She said that none of her children, or she herself had been sick until they moved, but then they all became sick and the situation became so hopeless. She said that if it wasn’t for the help of MTI’s care they would have all died. This story just really hit me because it put a face to the suffering. I felt for them and I was happy to see that they were able to get better with the help of a non-profit. (Nikki)
I talked to Sures Kumar, a 14 year old boy who saw his family be swept away in the tsunami. “I tried to reach my sister”. Those words tore me up inside. Family is everything and that really just hits your heart that this young boy tried to save his little sister. I would first give him a hug. Having experienced the tragic death of a family member, I know that there isn’t much you can actually say that helps at the beginning. But, ultimately, I would share that God has a future and hope for him. (Brady)
PBC Students also noted the information that startled or jumped out to the students as they walked through the exhibit. The main stats they noted were:
- Every 5 seconds a child under the age of 5 dies of a preventable disease.
- Eighty percent of disease in the world is carried through unclean water.
- Half of the world lives on less than $2 a day.
- Before the Syrian crisis there was over 300 physicians in major city in Syria and after there was only 30 registered physicians in the city.
- More than 40% of people in the world don’t have access to latrines
PBC Students also journaled on themes of justice, hope, compassion and courage. One student wrote about compassion:
“A deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering” (Dictionary.com). Compassion means to care, to feel, to break for His people. There is no other way to genuinely help without first understanding and obtaining compassion. This is only half of the definition – true compassion is to do something. Compassion is to be in their shoes and step into their world and really share in their sorrow. We must first ask for the heart of the Lord, that we may have His heart and allow ours to break for what breaks His. To obtain a complete compassion for His people, we are to be moved deeply to actually live out His commands to care for His people with action. (Lauren)
At the end of the Exhibit, students went shopping in the Marketplace to pick up action cards to:
- commit to pray for refugees and people impacted by natural disasters,
- to sign-up to volunteer to pack medical supplies to places Medical Teams serves, or
- to commit financially to the places impacted by armed conflict or unhealthy living conditions.
Visit their website (http://www.medicalteams.org/home/real-life-exhibit) to get more details on how you can go experience these places around the world for yourself.
Medical Teams International is an international, non-profit organization based in Tigard, Oregon. They respond to disasters around the world—and here at home—by sending teams of volunteer medical professionals and medical supplies to care for the sick and injured. They also mobilize long-term health promotion initiatives, collaborating with established partners within each community to ensure that our programs have a sustainable impact.