|With so many needs here “at home” why do you do so much work overseas?||How are you physically able to do so much in so many countries?||How do the Indians I see in the pictures get the clothes that they wear?|
|How can you do all that you do on 6% overhead?||You seem to deploy often. Where is your next trip and how long will you be gone?||Are all RTF staff members doctors, and what are their specialties? What about the volunteers?|
|How many clinics does RTF have, and are there any new clinics being built?||What is the goal of RTF? Is it to eradicate illiteracy or bring the people up to a level of health?||How many Honduran villages do you visit each year? Are they the same villages or do you choose different ones?|
|On average, how long is each trip?||What kind of improvements have you seen in the lives of the people you help?||How can i volunteer?|
RTF delivers volunteer medical and dental teams into the jungles villages of Honduras and has constructed three full service medical and dental clinic facilities deep in the jungles of Honduras’ Miskito Coast.
United States Congressman Duncan Hunter has commended Rescue Task Force from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob has referred to Rescue Task Force as a “Premier relief agency”.
Working often with World Emergency Relief (WER) Rescue Task Force ships multi-millions of dollars worth of pharmaceuticals and relief supplies primarily to our projects in Central America and Cambodia. Products are donated by manufactures and we have only to pay the freight cost of overseas shipping containers and then local distribution expenses. This is a great leveraging of scarce donated dollars: We recently delivered $12 million in pharmaceuticals to El Salvador for a cost of $4,000 and airlifted $200,000 of emergency medicine to Sudan for “only” $1,000. Working with Free Wheelchair Mission RTF has distributed 6,000 wheelchairs in Cambodia and over 3,000 in El Salvador – that is 9,000 people in our service areas no longer crawling on the ground!
With so many needs here “at home” why do you do so much work overseas?
RTF was active in bringing immediate disaster relief to fire victims in San Diego County and for two years after the fire supported recovery efforts. RTF was a first responder to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
RTF has provided over 243,453 minutes of phone cards to military service members and their families and when wounded Service members are arriving at Balboa Naval Hospital, San Diego, Walter Reed in D.C. and Brooke Army Med Center in San Antonio, Texas from Iraq and Afghanistan – direct from triage in Germany most often, their Sea Bags (Luggage) were back at their units. They were arriving here on med-evac flights with nothing.
With 25% of the incoming wounded being upper limb amputees 25% of the back packs RTF provided contained CD (Walkman) players with music CDs and electric razors vs. the Game Boy entertainment items and razors that require one or both hands.) In addition to the entertainment items the back packs contained a personal hygiene kit, book, magazines, stationary and pens and stamps. The packs also had clothing items, a watch and gift certificates that they could use at food outlets at the Hospital.
We serve where need is most. Most often that is in foreign disaster zones and in developing countries Here in the United States we are blessed with having some degree of infrastructure for ALL citizens. Some may have to wait several hours to see a doctor. We serve those who are often six DAYS away from any medical help.
How are you physically able to do so much in so many countries?
We have a great team of supporters in so many ways, Financial, logistic and prayer. In the primary countries where we work we have dedicated volunteer Project Coordinators.
In Cambodia, Mr. Channy Srey, volunteer President of RTF Cambodia and his associates manage all of the container shipments of wheelchairs, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals that we ship as well as coordinating US and Cambodian volunteer teams.
They receive the containers and clear them through customs and arrange warehousing until we arrive for the distributions.
On the Atlantic Coast of Honduras’ Miskito Coast jungles, where we build our medical clinics and provide safe water filters, our local guide and translator, “Mou”, with whom we have worked since 1988, coordinates construction and always has everything arranged for incoming volunteer medical and dental teams.
In El Salvador, Ms. Cristina Amaya, volunteer President of RTF El Salvador coordinates customs clearance and distribution of incoming ocean freight containers of pharmaceuticals and relief supplies. Cristina also coordinates our monthly all-volunteer medical / dental teams to slums and very rural villages of El Salvador.
All of our country coordinators are blessed with great teams of volunteers.
How do the Indians I see in the pictures get the clothes that they wear?
The Miskito Indian villages are very remote and deep in the jungle. The natives grow simple crops, mostly rice and beans and cassava (root).
They paddle their surplus crops to Puerto Lempira – Many days away via dug-out canoe. In Puerto Lempira they can sell a canoe full of harvest for the equivalent of several dollars.
It is with these few dollars that they purchase items that they cannot make from trees etc. in their jungle. Items such as machete and files to dress their tools. They also buy clothes.
Clothes are brought to this frontier town by local merchants on the ocean coastal trading ships. Used clothing is purchased in 100 pound bales. Men, Women and Children. The bales are broken down into sizes and sold on the street.
How can you do all that you do on 6% overhead?
We cannot continue to do so. With the growing demands for help we have to expand our infrastructure. Our current Board of Directors approved budget calls for about 8 % administration and fundraising costs. (8% based on current funding levels.)
Our costs are kept a minimum by simply keeping the costs down. We do not have any salaried staff positions and we work from home. Much of the work that is often hired by for-profit businesses is done by volunteers. We have a great circle of local vendors that discount many services and supplies that we have to purchase.
You seem to deploy often. Where is your next trip and how long will you be gone?
We do not know. We know when our next scheduled trip back into the jungles of Honduras will be, but in that these missions are several months apart we do not know “what is next?”
We respond globally to disasters and our teams often are on a plane within hours of a disaster striking.
Are all RTF staff members doctors, and what are their specialties? What about the volunteers?
None of the staff are doctors. Gary was corpsman for USMC (Viet Nam) and served for many years in the Fire department so he has some medical skills, especially trauma management.
Our volunteers come from all walks of life. We need doctors and dentists and nurses etc, we also need lay people to assist with clinic work: assisting with patients, loading dental syringes and holding flashlights. Volunteers run our “pharmacies” and one does not need to be a brain surgeon to hand out worm pills.
How many clinics does RTF have, and are there any new clinics being built?
We have completed 3 full service clinics. Indians donate land in center of village areas and do the work themselves - we ship (via canoe) in all materials for construction that they cannot fashion from jungle Mahogany trees such as cement, rebar and roofing material.
Construction work is done during the rainy season while villagers cannot tend their fields. The clinic equipment such as O.B. tables, exam table, pediatric scales, everything, is shipped from the USA in an ocean freight container.
At Puerto Lempira the cargo is loaded onto our RTF boat and many hired large dug-out canoes and transported through the jungle to the clinic site. The Ministry of Health then does the staffing. In some extremely remote villages RTF provides a bonus to help motivate health care professionals to live and work there.
Construction of the next facility is pending – contingent on funding. The cost of a full service and fully equipped facility is $65,000. Once we have financing we have to build according to Ministry of Health's budget for personnel so that everything comes ‘on-line’ at the same time.
What is the goal of RTF? Is it to eradicate illiteracy or bring the people up to a level of health?
Each clinic serves a central area. The goal, working in concert with the Ministry of Health, is to have 10 full service clinics. This interlocking network will put all of the villagers of the Miskito Coast jungle within one-day of canoe paddling to a clinic. Now it is often as much as 6 days travel by dug-out canoe for help.
We ship ocean freight containers to our project in Cambodia. They are asking us to come there with our clinic projects as well - same arrangement as we do in Honduras. When, depends on budget. At this time we cannot take on any additional commitments.
How many Honduran villages do you visit each year? Are they the same villages or do you choose different ones?
We will typically visit a given village several times. First to re-con the site for volunteer teams and site location for clinic construction. During the course of construction we will bring 2-3 volunteer medical teams over several months.
Once the clinic is up and running we leap-frog deeper into the jungle for the next project. We use the villages where we have been in the past as lay-over sites.
We field about 3 full-on volunteer teams a year and another 3-4 non-volunteer teams. We do not take volunteers into an area until we have researched it. We take very select volunteers that have served in Honduras into Cambodia and to disaster responses.
On average, how long is each trip?
What kind of improvements have you seen in the lives of the people you help?
In the La Moskitia villages of Honduras children were dying and lethargic from worms and parasitic infestations. Simple treatment cures that.
In Uhsan, our first construction project, the government has now assigned a school teacher - societal progress is coming fast!
In that village a farmer was recently bitten by a poisonous snake while tending his bean field.
Before, he would have died - leaving his family destitute. Today, because there is a clinic, that man is well and working and supporting his very appreciative family.
How Can I Volunteer?
We need 10 to 12 volunteers willing to wade through alligator-infested swamps in Central America and remote villages in Cambodia and S.E. Asia.
Flying in vintage aircraft, exposure to Malaria, Dengue Fever, snakes, spiders and scorpions. You might also have an opportunity to capsize in a boat. You will see parrots, butterflies such as you did not know exist, and monkeys and an occasional sloth bear. Added benefits are absence of hot water, bathrooms, and electricity, and as an added bonus, you can have anything to eat that you want – you bring it with you in your back pack. Plus: you will be the answer to someone’s prayer as you deliver medical supplies, tools, water filters and humanitarian gifts to people with hurting bodies and aching hearts.
The mission lasts 12 – 14 days. It often takes two days to reach our destination, after we get to our jump off point – in Central America a little dirt landing strip on the frontier. We travel via dugout canoe, inflatable and fiberglass powerboats, mules, burros and horses. Sometimes in helicopters and always a lot of walking.
Our trips are to some of the most remote sections of the globe. (We have not lost anyone in the jungle yet, but many have been changed to a life of new meaning.)
For more information on how to support and/or participate on a RESCUE TASK FORCE team mission contact us by following the information provided on the application located below.
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