Scholarship Stories

Written by - Emily Craig

Christian Emergancy Relief Teams
Saving Lives & Healing Hearts Since 1974

Thank you for all of your support!02 joy

Tucked away on the western coast of South America, is the diverse nation of Peru. There are two very distinct portions of the country. On the eastern side, you’ll find an extension of the Amazon Rain Forest. On the western side, the Andes Mountains. Each region comes with its own unique culture and people groups.  In July 2016, I had the unique opportunity to travel to the city of Cusco and serve the indigenous people in remote villages, far from medical care.

Serving the People of Peru

Eventually, because we were seeing the same complaint over and over, we developed a community educational outreach curriculum in the format of multiple skits. We educated the group on safe water consumption in the proper amount to decrease parasites, body aches, and headaches. We demonstrated core and low back exercises and stretches, as well as proper lifting techniques. We also taught them how to brush their teeth properly.


Read more: Peru-July-2016



Written by Ryan Stringer 

Dear Southwestern Medical Clinic Foundation, 

MZ-3raOver four clinic days from April 17-20 our team of two doctors, one nurse practitioner, five nurses, and a paramedic were able to provide health care to approximately 100 men, women, and children in Mazatlán Mexico partnered with Back2Back Ministries. Your generous scholarship provided us the means to purchase a substantial amount of medications that made our clinics possible.

Our first day started off busy, with an abbreviated devotional and then a quick hour of organization and pill packing. This day was the most comfortable for the team as we set up a mobile health clinic in one of the rural “squatter” villages where the homes are commonly made of scrap materials and rarely have much of a floor. It felt good to be providing some basic medical care, to people who have such limited access to healthcare. It can also be challenging realizing that nothing about the environment or patient’s risk factors is being changed and likely the patient’s health is going to remain in the same condition. Clinic days like this are important to connect the local ministry and church with the people they are serving to provide a physical need, and hopefully open doors for the gospel to be shared.


Read more: Mexico-April-2016



Bangladesh May 2015 Trip Report

The Ruff Family: Joy, Joel, Nathan, Zach and Grace

Bangla arrivalThank you for supporting our family as we travelled to the country of Bangladesh with World Medical Mission/ Samaritan’s Purse. We spent 21 days in Bangladesh at Memorial Christian Hospital. Joy worked mostly with Dr. Heather Fowler an American Family Practice physician, but also worked with Dr. Kelley and some of the other surgeons who were on-call.

My (Joy) days were filled with rounding in the morning on the maternity patients whom I had admitted the day before. Frequently we would start the morning with a scheduled c-section, or if a laboring mother was not progressing as she should. One of the highlights for me in my medical training was getting to perform a c-section for a twin delivery. The later mornings and afternoons were spent in the outpatient clinic. I saw a variety of pediatric and prenatal patients. The pediatric and adult patients I saw were for acute issues and ranged from Ricketts to Typhoid, both of which are common. The Ricketts is actually from total calcium deficiency from their diet rather than vitamin D deficiency as Bangladesh is very sunny. I also learned about a variety of high risk OB prenatal care including managing insulin dependent diabetes.


Read more: Bangladesh-May-2015




Written by Ryan Stringer


Dear Southwestern Medical Clinic Foundation,

THANK YOU!!! Your generous financial and prayer support has made a great impact in Haiti. Over four clinic days from April 27-30 our team of 4 doctors, 7 nurses, and 3 support staff were able to provide basic medical care for nearly 450 Haitian men, women, and children in two villages.

rs-01Our first two clinic days were an hour up into the mountains on a very dusty and rocky road in the back of a "cantor" or flat bed truck with some benches, leading us to the village of Turpin. Our clinic was up and running by 10:00 AM and continued until 2:30PM with rotating breaks for lunch. These days were particularly taxing due to the length of travel and heat radiating down from the metal roof in the afternoon, but so rewarding.

Mission of Hope Haiti (MOH) partners with the churches in the villages they serve with guidance from a pastor appointed "village champion". This individual serves as the liaison between MOH and the community. The "village champion" assists with allocation of resources and community development, invests in the lives of the people, and guides long term vision in conjunction with the church. Turpin was unique because many of the people were already Christians and have an outstanding pastor and "village champion" who shepherd the people. It is unclear how many people were "saved" but many were encouraged with prayer after having received their medical treatment. Sara and I longed to speak Creole, but were grateful for the interpreters who are employed by MOH.

Our second two days were spent under a large tree in the village of Williamson. We were able to start earlier in the day as this was only a 30 minute drive down a major highway. We were encouraged to hear that during these days 20 people became new Christians. A highlight of my day was caring for a 6 year old girl named Chrisline. My wife Sara was playing with her when the little girl whispered to Sara that she had a rock in her ear. Fortunately my father (a pediatrician) had packed a couple of plastic curettes with his otoscope. After some flushing with water and carefully removing wax we were able to remove a small stone and large wax to restore the hearing of this small girl. Her mother told us the rock had been there for a few years. Tears streamed down her face after we had told her that it was out. We both believe it was God’s provision that allowed her to be seen and cared for as she was initially there because of a family member receiving care. All week we passed out vitamins, analgesics, and antibiotics hoping to provide temporary relief to the suffering, knowing that the water, food, and environment was unlikely to change in the short term, likely resulting in continued ailments. It was such a gift to be able to make an instant physical change in this girl’s life, and is something I admire of those in the surgical field.


Read more: Haiti-April-2015



Ethiopia- July 2013

Written by David Christensen


As a basic summary of my experience in Soddo, I would like to explain our day to day routine and introduce you to a few patients. I was at Soddo Christian Hospital for a total of 6 weeks. We would start rounds on the overnight admissions in the ICU at 7:00 AM. Our typical census was 50 patients and we would finish rounding at approximately 9:30 for a quick breakfast. My duties during rounds were primarily dressing changes as the junior resident would write the progress note and most patients did not speak English for history taking. We would operate until 4:00 PM, typically covering 10 surgeries. Minor procedures like simple fracture rodding, skin grafting, external fixator adjustments, and irrigation and debridements were performed by myself and one of the residents. More advanced cases, commonly of complex fractures, extensive infections, tumors, and chronic dislocations would be performed by Dr. Anderson, the attending ex-pat physician, and residents as needed. Finally, we would wrap up the day with 25 clinic patients. Many of these patients were presenting with chronic problems and frequently Dr. Anderson had to turn them away due to the complexity of their aliment. Now I present four patients that provide an accurate snap shot of the patient population that the orthopaedic service at Soddo Christian Hospital serves.


soddo-gregeoryFirst is Gregory (note that I changed the names). Gregory’s problems started 3 months ago when someone burned down his house and literally every material possession he owned. Fortunately, some of his friends were able to help him start rebuilding but during the construction process, he fell and fractured his femur. Since he had very little money, he went to the wolgatia (witch doctor) who wrapped his leg very tightly for a month. The picture shows his leg after we removed the bandage, literally 3-4 times the size of his contralateral leg. We made a small incision in his knee at the bedside under local and proceed to drain about a gallon of frank puss from his knee and thigh. We had to take him back to the operating room many more times and he had problems both with anemia (Hgb nader of 4.1) and finding family members willing to donate blood. Although it initially looked like he would need an amputation at the hip, he was recovering well when I left and it appears that his leg will be saved.


Read more: Ethiopia- July 2013


Guatemala - Feb. 2013

Written by David Zacharias, MD


d-zacharis-smMayan Medical Aid is a non-profit organization with the purpose of providing free healthcare to the area around Lake Atitlán, a volcanic lake with depths up to 340 m located 1560 m above sea level in the heart of Guatemala.  This region includes 14,000 indigenous and impoverished Guatemalans.  

The program includes cultural immersion, high-quality didactic teaching/Spanish language instruction, home visits, and clinical opportunity.   The Mayan people of this region suffer from extreme poverty, malnutrition, low education, and high disease susceptibility.  The death rate for children under the age of five is one of the highest in the world.  It is the mission of Mayan Medical Aid to break this cycle of poverty and malnutrition, while maintaining the important cultural traditions of the Maya, and provide them with medical resources that are greatly needed.  My objectives for this mission trip included becoming more proficient at speaking Spanish, fostering compassionate patient relationships, treating patients of different cultures, acquiring practical diagnostic and treatment expertise, alleviating pain and suffering effectively, and making the interests of patients of paramount importance.  

The clinic is operated by an American family physician and his Guatemalan wife who is a pediatrician.  Together they supervise medical students and residents who come to volunteer and oversee all care provided to every patient.  There is also a group of translators/medical assistants who are local women that help gather medications and supplies as well as translate from the local Mayan dialect of Kaqchikel to Spanish.  


Read more: Guatemala - Feb. 2013