Organization History and Purpose
Since 2007, THHF has completed over ten international missions. In March of 2011, we traveled to Colombia for a plastic surgery mission in collaboration with several other volunteer organizations. We have completed six missions of our own in Guatemala with our surgical and dental teams. Our surgeons treated patients with cleft lip/palates, congential ear malformations, burn scars, cysts and other masses which required removal. Our dentists provided essential dental procedures and basic dental care to prevent and treat debilitating pain and infections. In addition, in the summer of 2012, we visited a remote area of Panama for the first time for what was a successful dental mission. The urgent need for access to health care became clear when, in order to treat all the patients, our dental care and tooth extractions proceeded late into the night. The dental procedures were made possible by the community children who held up flashlights to illuminate the dental instruments and patients' mouths. In September of 2012, we visited the Dominican Republic for the first time as a joint dental and pediatric mission. Hundreds of patients were seen by three pediatricians and a dentist. One of the most rewarding parts of that trip involved the identification of an extremely ill child suffering from a heart defect and malnutrition. At nearly one year of age, this child was the size of a 6 month old. We were able to connect her family to resources inside the country so that she could receive essential nutrition and lifesaving cardiac repair. As in the past, all of these missions are staffed by volunteers who pay their own airfare and some in-country expenses. All of our medications, equipment and supplies are donated or purchased through private donations. All of our services are free to the hospitals and the patients whom we serve.
THHF was founded in 2007 by four individuals who had experience working in medical mission organizations which focused solely on delivering aid during mission trips. The founders of THHF wanted to expand impact on communities by developing in-depth, long term relationships as well as providing education and equipment to promote sustainability. Since then, THHF has traveled to seven countries, initially accomplishing one trip per year. A one week mission can yield over 70 surgeries, 200 dental visits, and/or 300 medical visits. All of our services are free to the patients. In addition to each of the individual lives that are changed by our health care interventions, one of our most important accomplishments was creating a branch of our organization, THHF Guatemala. This organization, formed by residents of Guatemala, has its own board of directors and works to provide us with in-country logistical and fundraising support for our annual November missions. Pertaining to our goal of supplying to local organizations with needed resources, our largest scale effort occurred in June 2011 in Sierra Leone, where we were able to disperse $2 million worth of medications and supplies which were obtained as in-kind donations from medical supply organizations specifically for that purpose. A third success is that with each mission we have taken US health care workers in training and/or local health care workers from the country we are visiting and augmented their skills as clinicians and increased their awareness of the importance of international medical aid. This creates a ripple effect in terms of the number of people committed to helping communities in need. Our group has become proficient at gathering material and human resources, planning the logistics of a trip to another country, and then delivering quality medical and surgical care. We would now like to build on that foundation and start expanding the scope of our missions. We believe this can happen through 3 actions: acquiring support staff services, purchasing key dental equipment, and securing funding for our next missions.
The Healing Hands Foundation (THHF) is an all volunteer, non-profit organization providing high quality health care to patients in areas lacking medical resources and surgical expertise. We provide pediatric surgery, general surgery, plastic surgery, OB/GYN care and surgery, dental care, cardiology services and general adult and pediatric medicine. Our aim to improve quality of life, decrease incidence of illness and death, and enable people to be productive members of their community. Our surgeons perform surgeries which not only have obvious cosmetic benefits, but also correct functional defects: cleft lip and palate repairs so that children can eat and speak normally, release of restrictive burn scars to allow patients to move their fingers or arms, and repair of congenital malformations of the ear so that children can hear. Other examples of life changing interventions are elimination of chronic dental pain, removal of gynecologic tumors, and treatment of infections which otherwise would fester or become life threatening.