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Feb 7, 2020

The Need for Suicide Prevention

Gathering information from groups and individuals.
Gathering information from groups and individuals.

After the devastation caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma in Puerto Rico, International Medical Corps helps to improve mental health and reduce stigma by providing training opportunities and facilitating stress relief and emotion management sessions for both professionals and affected community members. We are also addressing an urgent need for suicide prevention.

The Línea Primera Ayuda Sicosocial, the only mental health support hotline available on the island, noted an 83% increase in calls to their suicide prevention hotline between January 2017 and January 2018. The Department of Health in Puerto Rico also reported that there was a 29% increase in suicides from 2016 to 2017 – compared to a global increase that was nearly negligible at 0.73%.

As a result, with generous support from the GlobalGiving Foundation and its community of donors, we will facilitate urgently needed suicide prevention programming in Puerto Rico.

Our teams in Puerto Rico plan to train health personnel and community members on suicide prevention strategies and how to cope with suicidal ideations. The trainingwill include both role play simulations and group exercises and cover topics like the normalization of mental health issues, myths, risk factors, signs that someone may be suicidal, crisis intervention strategies, stigma against mental health and referral mechanisms.

Following the training, we will support referrals for higher levels of care and professional support to help people know where and how to connect individuals in need with increased care.

Our approach to suicide prevention will include supporting arts-based activities in coordination with local facilities and organizations, like Centro Medico Hospitals and the Servicio de Tratimiento Residencial para Adolescentes.

The arts-based activities will help patients receiving psychiatric treatment learn how to manage their emotions and use positive coping skills, instead of turning to suicide. At the culmination of the program, we will host an art exhibition at a museum in San Juan to raise awareness of the needs surrounding suicide among patients, community leaders and local organizations.

International Medical Corps thanks the GlobalGiving Foundation and its community of donors for supporting our response to mental health needs in Puerto Rico.

Assessing mental health after the storms.
Assessing mental health after the storms.
Jan 30, 2020

The Importance of Transportation in Recovery

Transportation support provided by Intl Med Corps
Transportation support provided by Intl Med Corps

On October 12, 2019, Typhoon Hagibis struck the Pacific coast of Japan. Up to 25 million people were affected by the storm and more than 4,000 people were initially evacuated to over 120 shelters. Overall, the deadly storm damaged infrastructure, caused power outages and disrupted water services in 12 prefectures across Japan, and also left 27,400 hectares of flooded areas. In response to the storm, International Medical Corps partnered with the Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan) to help communities recover and rebuild.

Together, our teams are helping children with disabilities access facilities to learn social skills through play after school and during special events, such as seasonal activities and weekend field trips. We are supporting intergenerational programming to give their caregivers extra time to provide for their families. Intergenerational programs provide a space for different generations to come together, share experiences, accomplish mutually beneficial goals and foster relationships. AAR Japan uses intergenerational programming to give the children an opportunity for hands-on experience and celebrate the traditional ceremonies, which are hosted by the elders.

Following the impact of Typhoon Hagibis, the vehicles used to facilitate these critical services were damaged beyond use. Yuga, a fourth grader explained his experience to us, “I was scared and worried during the typhoon because there was lots of rain and strong winds.” The staff at the facility told International Medical Corps that they noticed many of the children were more cautious and anxious after the typhoon — some were too frightened to even go outside of their homes.

With the help of a generous donors like you, International Medical Corps is supporting transportation for the children to continue to receive essential services, despite the damage from Typhoon Hagibis.

With transportation supported by International Medical Corps, Yuga’s daily routine can begin to return to normal — “I am looking forward to new events,” he says!

Together with our partners, International Medical Corps is helping children with disabilities access intergenerational care and cultural lessons. We thank the GlobalGiving community for helping our team provide care after disasters like Typhoon Hagibis.

New transportation helps students learn.
New transportation helps students learn.
The new car funded by International Medical Corps.
The new car funded by International Medical Corps.
Jan 27, 2020

The Next Generation's Story

Classmates practicing their resuscitation skills.
Classmates practicing their resuscitation skills.

Abraham is a 25-year-old student who just completed his first year at one of International Medical Corps’ three midwifery schools in South Sudan. His path to the field of midwifery was not easy.

Abraham comes from a large family and he is the youngest of ten children. Abraham’s story begins in primary school. While he had a sponsor for a few years, “I supported my studies through small jobs,” Abraham explains. “I faced numerous challenges during that period, including the payment of school fees and scholastic materials, like textbooks, notebooks, pens and school bags as well as the seven miles’ transport from my home to the school.”

Nevertheless, he persevered with the support of his mother. His father served in the army during the war and was frequently absent for long periods of time. He graduated from primary school in 2012 and then faced the same challenges in secondary school; thanks to a partial sponsorship and part-time employment, he was able to find sufficient funds to pay for school fees, housing and transportation. In 2016, Abraham celebrated the completion of his secondary education.

He feels very privileged to be supported by a scholarship at the Kajo-Keji Health Sciences Institute. It came as a surprise. “One day, when I was visiting South Sudan’s Ministry of Health, I saw an advertisement for a scholarship for any qualified science student to apply in the fields of midwifery and nursing,” Abraham explains.

“Four months later, I was called for an interview after the list of candidates was announced,” he says, and began his studies in January 2019. This class of students just completed their first year and their second clinical rotations.

Many men are enrolled in the three-year midwifery program, and, across all three schools, 36% of the first-year students are men like Abraham. “I promise to do my part to reduce the suffering of the people of South Sudan by offering the knowledge and skills I have gained in this program,” Abraham assures us. “I will teach other students or people who need this knowledge and skills; provide basic health services like nursing care to patients in any health facility; and advocate for better understanding of sexual and reproductive rights and the consequences of gender-based violence for women and girls.”

International Medical Corps’ nursing and midwifery students come from different parts of South Sudan and have different backgrounds, including experience as refugees and with armed conflict. Most are enrolled free-of-charge so that they can focus solely on their studies.

While institutional donors cover most of the educational expense and school maintenance, the students and faculty have identified the need for solar panels to replace an aging generator, which has been causing disruptions in electricity in Juba; additional teaching aids like an electronic birth simulator at the Kajo-Keji school; and additional toilet facilities and a school bus for travel to clinical placements at Wau.

Donations, like those from the GlobalGiving community the next generation of health professionals, like Abraham, in South Sudan.

Abraham, studying for a Diploma of Midwifery
Abraham, studying for a Diploma of Midwifery
A student recording vaccination records.
A student recording vaccination records.
 
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