Wednesday, February 3, 2010

141 Cranes and a spotlight on Deseret International

Once upon an unspecified time, an unnamed American organization decided to give free medical care to an area in Haiti. As an unfortunate, unintended consequence, the local Haitian doctors were not able to compete with the American MDs, and were forced out of the area. When the American organization later pulled out, the area was left with no system of medical care.

With this cautionary tale in mind, Deseret International executes a different model. Nowadays, developing countries have local surgeons, who received their surgical educations in Boston, London, etc., and then returned to their home countries with a desire to help.

Help is needed, certainly. The local surgeons may know of girls who have dropped out of school because of speech and social difficulties caused by a cleft palate. They may see children suffering from life-threatening hydrocephalus.

But the crossing from desire to action may be stymied by practical obstacles. Let's take one example: the surgeon does not have an adequately equipped operating room. Some needed thing is lacking: from sutures, to an operating room itself.

Deseret International bridges the gap from desire to action, by helping local surgeons get what they need to help their people. They may approach a local hospital, and offer to donate an updated anesthetic machine, if the hospital will reserve an operating room for free surgeries on, say, Friday. They may provide medical supplies to the local surgeon. Now the local surgeon has an operating room on Friday, and needed supplies, and spends Fridays performing surgeries on local people.

And then--I'm being literal here--the blind see, the lame walk, children live and go back to school.

Some of these miracles cost 25 U.S. Dollars. To learn more, visit DesInt's website.

I learned about Deseret International when Doug Jackson came to speak to my club, this morning. It inspires me, how many people are going forth from my town (I googled DesInt's mailing address--it's 3.7 miles north of my home) to do work to advance our world. Doug was recently in Haiti, and shared another story with a memorable lesson, with which I'll conclude.

Jeremy Johnson, from St. George, Utah, wanted to help in Haiti. He didn't know how, at first--he just knew he needed to be there. So he went to Haiti, and brought his personal helicopter. (Do I need to mention that Mr. Johnson is wealthy?) He ended up buying two more helicopters, and used his three helicopters to transport aid (many roads are impassable), and help people like Doug Jackson from DesInt to get around.

Doug's lesson. "Sometimes you have to--just show up, without a plan, without the set-up being absolutely perfect. Just show up, and you'll find ways to help." This lesson, of course, doesn't only apply to Haiti, which trip most of us can't afford.

Nah, I'm sure anybody can find plenty of things to show up to, just a few miles away from their homes--no helicopter needed.

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