The Modern Mission Trip
By Steve Stirling, President & CEO MAP International
This summer, thousands of Americans will use their hard-earned vacation days to visit some of the neediest countries in the world. They will join volunteers from their church, school, hospital or community organization to venture out on a “mission trip.”
While the term may sound somewhat old-fashioned, today’s mission trips provide much needed volunteer help to some of the most resource-poor communities in the world. Instead of Americans going to direct others how to live, most trips are directed by local leaders who tell the volunteers where they are needed and how they can best help based on the community’s needs.
Volunteers serve as construction workers, Vacation Bible School helpers, work in feeding programs and in local clinics. Medical mission volunteers provide critically needed health screening and treatment in rural and urban communities under-served by national health programs.
Every year, MAP International provides more than 1,300 MAP Medical Mission Packs to volunteers traveling overseas. Many are OTC (over the counter) packs available to any team, even those traveling without a health care professional.
The contents of these packs include vitamins, antibiotic ointment, bandages, fever-reducers, sterile gloves, and other products, mostly donated by pharmaceutical companies who are part of the Partnership for Quality Medical Donations (PQMD). The products might seem common to many Americans but they are rare and valuable for many clinics where treatment of a burn, fever, or wound can be life-saving.
For health care providers traveling overseas, the Medical Mission Packs contain prescription medicines to treat everything from fungal infections to severe diarrhea and dehydration. A combination of donated and procured medicines make up these packs and custom packs are also available to meet specific needs.
The average prescription Medical Mission Pack contains more than $10,000 of goods that are truly invaluable for many clinics which cannot procure these drugs reliably themselves.
“Over the course of five days our group saw and treated 1,616 Haitian men, women and children,” said Dr. Courtney Murphy, a physician who took MAP Medical Mission Packs to Haiti. “Seeing a face light up when I gave someone vitamins or pain medication is something I will never forget.”
In addition to procuring and packing the medicines, MAP International provides all of the customs forms and information by country to insure the products are brought in safely and in full compliance with local health regulations.
When a mission team shows up with these desperately-needed medical supplies, the community is always grateful.
“Volunteers help in many ways, but when they also bring medical supplies, the entire community benefits,” says Dr. Ken Culver, a medical doctor and president of Foundation for Peace, which works in communities and sponsors medical and non-medical mission trips to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Kenya.
“Supplies are always low in clinics, so whatever a group can bring is an enormous benefit.”
In 2016, MAP International has already received more than 300 orders for Medical Mission Packs that will be carried to countries around the world. For more information about ordering packs, go to www.map.org/medicines.
Steve Stirling is president and CEO of MAP International.