Refuge International

Improving lives through healthcare, nutrition, clean water, and education.

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Stephen Mahoney with patientAs a college freshman, I was still pretty clueless about where life would lead me. The guiding force that influenced me towards a career in health care came through my medical mission trips with Refuge International. As an undergrad, I received invaluable experience by participating directly in patient care on my trips to Guatemala. I learned to take blood pressures, start IV’s, and eventually to scrub in and assist with surgery.

I have found working in the operating room exceedingly rewarding, and this led me to consider a career as a surgeon. However, my decision to become a doctor did not come solely from my operating room experience but from my exposure to human suffering, the potential of its relief, and the gratitude expressed by the people who I am given the chance to help. I have little doubt that I am where I am today, a second year medical student at UT Southwestern, because of the influence Refuge has had on my life.

“One time we had to go buy a hacksaw to do an amputation.”

Dr. Eveland with a little girlThis is the start of just one of innumerable stories Dr. Ken Eveland, one of our most committed volunteers, loves to share. He goes on to explain that a Guatemalan man had broken his tibia (shin bone) several years earlier, and it had never healed properly. His leg suffered chronic infection, and although the man had been to the Guatemalan National government hospital time and time again to have a much-needed amputation, the surgery was repeatedly postponed by the hospital system. The man showed up at our San Raymundo clinic one day, and by the next, Dr. Eveland and Dr. Jordan Stanley were able to amputate the bad leg.

Refuge then arranged for the man to have a prosthetic, and he is able to walk and work once again. Dr. Eveland, a retired general surgeon who explains he’s “no good at just doing nothing,” has been on 33 mission trips with Refuge International and is very active in the administrative activities. Dr. Eveland made his first trip with Refuge in 2006 and since then “God has got Guatemala etched on my heart.” Once you get Dr. E. going, it’s hard to get him to stop talking about the coffee plantations and volcanoes, or the people and their histories and lives.