International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through healthcare training, disaster relief, and long-term development programs.
Mar 11, 2016

Lasting Change: Preventing Sexual- and Gender-Based Violence

Police prevention committee in the DRC
Police prevention committee in the DRC

“In our family and according to tradition, women are created to meet any need a man may have.” Theophilus, chief of Ufamandu locality in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), recalled of his previous beliefs. “Three years ago, I was invited to participate in International Medical Corps’ community awareness sessions on protection and the prevention of sexual violence and gender-based violence. As a traditional chief and very proud, I rejected the invitation, replying that sexual violence does not exist. A year later, after repeated invitations, I said I would go and listen. After two sessions, I was in a deep state of reflection. I saw that I was a prisoner of custom.”

Although the decade-long civil war in the DRC, which affected up to six million lives, officially ended years ago, the eastern region of the country remains one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis zones. As fighting persists, people find themselves needing to move to safer and calmer areas. As those displaced lose their property, means of livelihood, and social support, acts of sexual violence against women and children continue, which can result in forced and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and/or emotional trauma.

Since the height of the conflict, International Medical Corps has been committed to supporting the Congolese Government and other partners in the fight against sexual- and gender-based violence in volatile areas in eastern DRC. Our behavior change communication project reaches men, women, and youth. International Medical Corps also encourages religious and local leaders to play a role in preventing sexual and gender-based violence within their communities. To date, we have reached 2,609 leaders with training to create and adopt new attitudes and perceptions about sexual- and gender-based violence. As a result of this work, there has been more concrete movements, like undertaking advocacy action at the provincial level to protect women and girls, which can continue for years after the end of this project.

Our teams do not stop there. We are also working with police officers and law enforcement officials, training 4,146 officers and officials on how to prevent sexual violence. We are helping to establish police prevention committees to continue the critical sessions on sexual- and gender-based violence with their peers. The police prevention committees discuss the impunity of perpetrators of sexual violence, early marriage, consequences of out of court settlement, consequences of harassment in the professional environment, and different forms of sexual violence.

Theophilus has taken the key learned messages back to his family. He says, “I explained to my family that no work will only be completed by my wife and the girls within our family. We must help each other. Girls and women are not our slaves, but human beings. At first, my brothers were very hostile because they felt that their power was threatened, unlike my wife and my sisters who jumped for joy.” Today, his brothers also perform household tasks. “I sincerely thank International Medical Corps for this humanitarian action. I especially thank the community facilitator, who managed to remove me from this prison of customs.”

With the generous support from you, GlobalGiving, and other donors, International Medical Corps is making lasting behavior change in the Democratic Republic of Congo, empowering both men and women to stop sexual- and gender-based violence and save lives.

Feb 17, 2016

Building Back Better in Nepal

Construction site for new health post in Taple
Construction site for new health post in Taple

Silyanyash is a religious Nepali ceremony to lay the first stones for construction, creating the foundation for good fortune to prosper and evil spirits to disperse. During the early afternoon of January 27, the local people of Taple village in Gorkha district came together for Silyanyash. The community was taking the first step to rebuild their health post, damaged by the 2015 earthquakes. Nishu Karna, who is leading the construction, recalled, “Our previous health post faced limitations even before the earthquakes destroyed it. We faced a shortage of rooms, a lack of facilities, and an absence of critical maternal care for pregnant women.” 

The April and May earthquakes in 2015 not only brought destruction, but also attention to the already present needs of Nepal’s fragile health system. It ranks 145th out of the 188 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index. In Taple, the lack of quality health care even before the earthquakes impacted many of community members, but particularly pregnant women. The pregnant women suffering from complications would often travel hours to the district hospital, risking their life and the life of their child. International Medical Corps is responding to this need and building a birthing unit within the Taple health post where pregnant women can receive reproductive health services, like antenatal care. In this religiously and culturally diverse area in the hills of Nepal, the new health post will reach nearly 4,000 men, women, and children. 

In addition to rebuilding health facilities and providing reproductive health services, International Medical Corps is helping to improve the healthcare system to build back better and stronger, including: 

  • Physical therapy and rehabilitative services, treating 872 men, women, and children grappling with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, arthritis, soft tissue injuries, among other debilitating conditions with 1,894 physical therapy sessions;
  • Nutrition treatment, establishing 3 planned stabilization centers to provide care for children under five years suffering from severe malnutrition;
  • Water and sanitation, utilizing innovative methodologies where communities and schools take action to improve hygiene practices and to become open-defecation free
  • Mental health, providing 51 health facilities with trained doctors, nurses, and midwives who can provide psychosocial care; and
  • Prevention of gender-based violence, assisting 13,649 women and adolescents girls at 10 safe spaces where they receive case management care, sexual reproductive health and gender issue information as well as first aid kits or dignity kits, including sanitary pads, bathing soap, cloths, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and blankets.

Throughout our programming, International Medical Corps and nine local partners are closely working with people like Nishu and communities like Taple village, addressing health-related gaps and integrating training to build self-reliance. Our goal is to ensure that local communities in the earthquake-affected areas have the capacity to respond to the next disaster. 

International Medical Corps is extremely thankful for GlobalGiving and other donors’ generosity, helping reach approximately 719,000 men, women and children in 109 villages and 11 districts across Nepal. Together, we are constructing the building blocks for more resilient communities.

Nishu Karna delivering her speech
Nishu Karna delivering her speech
Community members during Silyanyash ceremony
Community members during Silyanyash ceremony
Gathering after the Silyanyash ceremony
Gathering after the Silyanyash ceremony
Feb 9, 2016

First Responders Saving Lives after the Earthquake

Relief supply distribution in Afghanistan
Relief supply distribution in Afghanistan

When the ground started shaking violently during the 7.5-magnitude earthquake on October 26th in remote Charmango Qala village of Kunar province, Mr. Fazal-Ur-Rehman knew immediately what to do.

He ran out of his house to avoid being injured inside by falling debris. He saw many of the houses around him crumbled, trapping his neighbors inside, and fired his bird-hunting gun in the air—the unofficial SOS signal in the community—to call for help. As soon as other villagers came to his aid, together they started to dig through the rubble searching for survivors. In the meantime, they called the police and army squad to ask for their help. Within just 30 minutes, International Medical Corps-trained Community Emergency Response Team volunteers also responded to the scene. Together, these groups rescued the men, women and children buried under their destroyed homes. Miraculously, everyone was safe and sound.

Kunar province in Afghanistan is an area especially prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides and avalanches. Its mountains are strewn with small villages spread out over thousands of square miles. Because these communities are so hard to reach and often cut off from the outside world during a natural disaster, International Medical Corps has made it a priority to prepare them in advance—creating a response capacity that is immediate and self-reliant. When the earthquake struck, Mr. Fazal-Ur-Rehman knew how best to help himself and his neighbors thanks to the advance training he had received from International Medical Corps.

Meanwhile, in a small village in Chawki district about 20 miles to the southeast, a team of volunteers trained in first aid by International Medical Corps received news of a house that had collapsed in the earthquake. Led by Mr. Malawi Delawar Kahn, the team began a search-and-rescue operation and found three injured people under the rubble. Thanks to their training, the team was able to control the victims’ bleeding before helping with their transfer to a district hospital for further treatment.

Natural disasters are inevitable in this remote part of the world, and the examples of Mr. Fazal-Ur-Rehman and Mr. Malawi Delawar Kahn show that being prepared can mean the difference between life and death. In this response, International Medical Corps drew on its more than 30 years of experience in Afghanistan providing lifesaving medical care, training, and other services to vulnerable populations. Since October 26th, International Medical Corps has provided more than 30,000 medical and 4,000 psychosocial consultations. We have also reached more than 9,000 earthquake-affected people with emergency relief supplies, such as soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste for hygiene needs and tents and tarp for temporary shelter, and an additional 6,000 people with winterization supplies, including warm clothing and blankets.

International Medical Corps thanks GlobalGiving and other donors for their support as our teams and trained volunteers continue to respond to the devastation that resulted from the October 26th earthquake in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Village resident standing near a destroyed home
Village resident standing near a destroyed home
Assessing needs for an earthquake-affected family
Assessing needs for an earthquake-affected family
 
   

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