(PORTLAND, ORE.-Nov. 18, 2008) Tomorrow, two Portland physicians with Medical Teams International leave for eastern Congo, where they'll care for families trapped without medical care in the rebel fighting.
Dr. Steve Boyer and Dr. Bob Gibson, both physicians at St. Vincent Medical Center, will travel to internally displaced people's (IDP) camps where more than a quarter million people have fled. Joe DiCarlo, Medical Teams International's director of emergency relief, arrived in the conflict-ridden region last week.
"It's like a war zone here," explains DiCarlo, who was allowed to enter rebel territory by armed soldiers. "There are no bombs exploding but people are walking everywhere, trying to find a safe place to hide from guerilla warfare...just running for their lives."
The families are fleeing fighting that started last month and has pushed more than a million people from their homes.
Dr. Boyer, an emergency room physician, previously served in Sudan, Afghanistan and Liberia with Medical Teams International. Dr. Gibson, a cardiologist, volunteered in Iraq, Haiti and Afghanistan. The two Portland volunteers will join two nurses-one from Renton, Wash., and a second from Farmington, Mo.-for a month-long assignment. The four relief workers will carry in $25,000 in donated medicines when they arrive.
Media: Drs. Gibson and Boyer are available for photos/interviews from 6 to 6:45 a.m., Nov. 19, at PDX Airport's United Airlines ticket counter. For more info., call 503-341-6620.
The volunteer team will also help dispense $562,000 in medical supplies which Medical Teams International is air-shipping to the country this week. The urgently needed supplies-including antibiotics, bandages and pain relievers-will help 10,000 people for three months.
"These families-especially children and the elderly-are truly enslaved in a conflict that doesn't seem to have a simple resolution," adds DiCarlo.
To contribute to the Congo Relief Fund, please visit our secure Web site, www.medicalteams.org; call 1-800-959-4325; or mail funds to Medical Teams International, PO Box 10, Portland, OR 97207-0010.