Doctors On Mission (DM) is an NGO that was established by Dr. Rik Celie and Dr. Sabine De Weirdt in September 1990. They first began working in the Bolivian inland among the Quetchua (Inca) tribes and later expanded this work to include Haiti and Pakistan.
The inspiration behind the mission was Dr.Rik’s admiration for the outreaches of Dr. Albert Schweitzer and Dr. David Livingstone in Africa. His attempt to follow in their footsteps bore this mission.
The vision of this mission is to provide sustainable medical healthcare to several needy countries around the world (Inland Bolivia) as well recent disaster zones (Haiti) and areas where minority groups are persecuted (North Pakistan). This is done by setting up and training local medical teams to consistently reach out to these poverty/disaster – stricken areas in their surroundings.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs):
How is DM different from other organizations?
1) We always work with local medical teams. We believe that with some additional training and the DM mentality, local doctors are better equipped to understand and help patients from their own countries whilst assuring consistent care. While our work springs out of immediate disaster relief – such as after the earthquake of 2010 in Haiti, Hurricane Sandy also in Haiti (2012), the earthquake in Bolivia in 1998 as well as the flood zone in the Bolivian Amazon (2008) and the hunger epidemic and flood in North Pakistan (2011) – we do not just provide some help and get out, instead we see it as an opportunity to gain local community members’ trust and begin sustainable medical care in that area. We do this by setting up central medical mission bases to place our local doctors in to then reach out and help the needy areas around the base. This is done using long-distance ambulances in a radius of several hundreds of miles. In some cases, such as in Haiti, we want to use part of our medical base as an area to educate, house and attend to the medical needs of orphans – who have nowhere else to go. When funds are available we set up ‘satellite bases’ in far-out communities to assure direct contact with the main medical base of their area, this is achieved through USB radio, phone or by other means.
2) Unlike many other organizations we do not stay in or near the bigger and well-off cities of the country in question (such as Port-au-Prince in Haiti or La Paz/Sta.Cruz in Bolivia). We are dedicated to helping the forgotten, most destitute inland communities where often, medical outreaches have never been attempted. We reach these communities through several ways; river boats in the Bolivian Amazon, motorcycles in Haiti and horses in the valleys of Bolivia. When no transport is available we trek for hours in the mountains to reach the needy.
3) We not only take the needed medicines with us to these inland communities to cure and save lives, but also teach preventative healthcare and assure follow-up.
In addition we attempt to create sustainability by integrating our work in the national health structure of the local government.
4) We work together with local inland churches to avoid corruption and prove our good intentions.
What is DM in need of?
– We are NOT in need of medical personnel. As mentioned before we work with local doctors and nurses who are more than willing to reach out and help their people when resources are available. These local doctors go through short trainings by specialist doctors that come over for a short period of time for the specific reason of further developing the local doctors’ skills. Dr. Rik also does his part in giving additional training as he works in all three countries (Bolivia, Haiti and North Pakistan) periodically throughout the year.
-Most of our local doctors and nurses are young, teachable and eager to help the underprivileged and disaster-stricken in their area despite the fact that their salary is about 4% that of a typical western doctor. Though they aid thousands of non-insured, poor families for free, their government does not pay them a cent. DM pays these teams of local doctors and nurses that sacrifice their lives to get to and serve the needy. It is because we need to fund them that DM’s main need is financial. No matter how willing these doctors and nurses are to help and do good, if we cannot provide them with an income, they will be forced to find another job to feed their own families.
-In addition we need funds to purchase medicine, medical tools, transportation and afford much-needed surgeries. In some cases it is absolutely vital to bring patients over to hospitals in urban centers such as Port-au-Prince (Haiti); Lahore and Faisalabad (Pakistan) or Sucre/Tarija/Sta.Cruz in Bolivia, which is a costly feat, Cases are so abundant that DM wants to challenge you through the “DM Challenge”. This challenge – if responded by you – will give all our teams the change to continue all these outreaches. You can also directly hit the “donate” button and set up a donation through pay pall or through the means you prefer.
Where does DM buy/obtain their medicines?
In the past DM has had bad experiences attempting to ship containers of medicine and clothes from the West to third world countries. This is due to corrupt Customs that have leached thousands of dollars from us and wasted precious time by not delivering our containers (2003-2004). Therefore we now turn to the World Health Organization who produce and sell medicine in every big city of every poor nation (Example; 1,000 antibiotics for 20-50 US dollars). Also medical tools or transportation means are bought locally or in a neighboring country if not available.
How can I help?
By donating even a small amount of money you will be helping those less fortunate obtain a life free of pains and create renewed hope. Our most recent calculation in 2011 shows that by donating 7 dollars a month (1.75 dollars a week for one month), you help save the life of one child in need. Therefore if you commit to giving 1 dollar a day for a month (28 dollars/1 month) – you are helping relieve suffering, hunger, disease and even saving the lives of 48 children on a yearly basis! We also welcome one-time donations, every bit helps – but we appreciate most monthly donations, however small, so we can budget for the upcoming year. You can give through Paypal or you can send a check – don’t worry, all donations are tax deductible.
A word from Dr. Rik:
What seems like nothing to you is their way out of a life of misery and pain. I, Dr. Celie, assure you that it will give you joy in your heart knowing that you are part of this mission, helping those that can’t help themselves. I would like to direct you to the story of a young Haitian girl, Celine, who thanks to DM was able to receive a life-saving surgery that allows her to now pursue her dream of becoming a DM nurse: http://doctorsonmission.org/take-action/dm-challenge/ . Use this patient story as an example to see how far a little help from you can go, and decide for yourself if it’s worth it to become part of this mission that has given help to countless ‘Celines’.