On A Mission To Change Lives
Wednesday - August 19, 2009 Share
Aloha Medical Mission
By Ann E. Miller, executive director
The Aloha Medical Mission (AMM) mobilizes volunteers to provide free medical and surgical services to give hope and change the lives of those who lack access to healthcare in Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region. For more than 25 years, AMM has completed 116 missions to 15 countries, treating almost 250,000 people. AMM also provides free medical and dental care for 200 people per month at its Honolulu clinic.
Proof positive of the impact AMM makes can be found in Bangladesh. After going on several missions to the Philippines, two mission volunteers decided to establish a year-round permanent clinic with local healthcare workers in Bangladesh, where AMM could teach skills to local providers and make a long-term difference.
Dr. Craig Thomas, an emergency medicine physician, and his wife Susan Scott, a nurse and writer, started a free clinic in Dhaka with the help of Bangladeshi-American Jan Rumi, whose family donated an initial site. Now called Aloha Social Services Bangladesh and celebrating its 10th year, the program has grown into two clinics in northern Bangladesh with two preschools (started as a way to feed malnourished children) and a micro-credit program providing micro-loans to help impoverished women start businesses to support their families.
Unsung heroes Craig and Susan continue to be a mainstay of support, leading annual missions to Bangladesh and starting new initiatives, including a project to correct the crippling handicap of club feet. They have brought children to Honolulu Shriners Hospital, including a 7-year-old named Johney, who lived with them in Hawaii the year after surgery on his club feet at Shriners. He is now a bright 18-year-old who can walk normally and hopes to go to medical school.
While AMM volunteers pay their own way and donate their time and services, the organization must raise funds for medical supplies, equipment and clinic operations. AMM will present its fourth benefit concert, “Four Doctors, A Patient & A Diva!” Saturday, Dec. 10, at Blaisdell Concert Hall.
To help AMM continue its mission, donations can be made to: Aloha Medical Mission, 810 North Vineyard Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96817. Call 847-3400 or visit http://www.alohamedicalmission.org.
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