Mission to Mongolia : Team Member Interview and Mission Info
Mission to Heal (M2H) departs for Mongolia on Sunday (August 7).
Here’s a brief overview of our plans for the trip:
Mongolia is a landlocked country, set between Russia and China, and around the size of Alaska. There are about three million people living in this young democracy, about half of whom live in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. The population living outside the city is largely nomadic, living in gers (see picture) and traveling for the most part on horseback. Outside of the city, much of the infrastructure is made up of gravel roads or tracks. The terrain is primarily steppe – grassy, treeless plains resting at a high altitude – with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi desert to the south. Life expectancy in Mongolia is about 68.5 years.
Mission to Heal in Mongolia (the History):
The M2H team traveled to Mongolia last year and visited both Zavkhan and Bayankhongor. The team completed a variety of procedures, including open cholecystectomies, prostatectomies, and thyroidectomies. The plastic surgery team that accompanied M2H also filled a need for a variety of plastic surgeries, including cleft lips and palates and skin grafts. Nearly everything the M2H team brought to healthcare in these communities was completely new – new tools, new equipment, new procedures, and most importantly, new hope.
Mission to Heal in Mongolia (the Future):
Dr. Geelhoed and his team will be working in some of the most remote regions of the Zavkhan province this August. They will focus especially on the peripheral villages outside of the capital city of Uliastai. Because of the isolated nature of these villages, it’s likely that in some cases, the M2H team will be among the first Americans or Westerners to ever set foot there. Once there, they will see anywhere between 50 to 100 patients per day in consultation, and complete anywhere between three to seven surgical procedures in a day, using the first few operations to train the health care professionals already working there.
Jim Collins is headed to Mongolia this weekend.
Here’s his story:
A native of Lowell, Michigan, Jim recently graduated from Olivet College with his B.A. in Biology.
We asked him a few questions about his upcoming trip to Mongolia.
How did you first learn about Mission to Heal?
I heard about Mission to Heal from a family friend who attended Calvin College and had gone on one of the past missions.
Why did you decide to go on the Mongolia trip?
Before deciding to go on this trip, I had already decided to take a year or two off before applying to medical school. My plans were to work and maybe take a few classes for fun, but a friend of mine told me about a trip he had gone on with Mission to Heal during his gap year. It sounded like an amazing experience. I decided it was something I really wanted to do.
Have you ever been to Mongolia before? If so, when? If not, what are you expecting the country to be like?
Aside from Canada, I have never been outside of the U.S., so I really don’t know what to expect!
What kind of healthcare environments are you expecting to encounter in Mongolia?
I am not entirely sure what I will encounter, but I anticipate that the healthcare environments will be challenging. If they were running smoothly, they probably wouldn’t need our help.
What kind of service are you expecting to do on the trip?
I am expecting to do some kind of medical service, but I am more than willing to help in any way that I can!
What are your hopes for the trip?
I hope to have a great experience! I hope that through this mission, I’ll have the opportunity to learn more about medicine and what healthcare is like in another country. I hope to meet new people, and I hope to help others.
Are you nervous about anything going into the trip? If so, what?
I am very nervous. I am nervous about my first trip out of the country, and I am nervous about the actual service that I will be doing. But I think it’s a good kind of nervous – the kind mixed with excitement!
Does hearing about Mongolia get you excited about participating in a future mission? Click here for more info. Otherwise, stay tuned to the blog and social media for updates on this trip!