Medical Teams International exhibit sheds light on disaster, conflict regions
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
August 31, 2011 · 11:59 AM
As a global health organization, Medical Teams International (MTI) in Redmond serves alongside grassroots organizations, churches and health ministries in more than 70 countries.
MTI teams travel all around the world to work with people who are victims of natural disasters, conflict and poverty and beginning Sept. 10, they will bring that world to the MTI Mike and Kathy Holmgren Center at 9680 153rd Ave. N.E. in Redmond.
The REAL. LIFE. Exhibit will feature eight locations where MTI serves or has served, including Moldova, Uganda, Haiti and Mexico. MTI Executive Director James Mhoon said the purpose of the free exhibit is to give people a sense of what MTI is and what they do.
He said one of the organization's goals is to improve the level of health care in the areas they serve before the disaster or conflict. Mhoon explained that they usually work in developing countries where health care is already poor so when disaster strikes, the death rate increases significantly.
"Our goal is to slow that statistic down," he said. "We come in and help provide the health care."
The exhibit features real photos taken on location, enlarged on the walls so people walking through will feel immersed in the scene. Visitors will see models of life-sized huts, makeshift shelters and triage centers where people live and work. There will also be a 23-foot simulated wave to recreate a smaller version of the Indonesian tsunami in 2004, which had waves up to 98 feet tall.
In addition to devastation, REAL. LIFE. also features "after" scenes of locations that have been transformed by volunteer teams, showing that there is still hope even in these dire situations.
The exhibit ends with an action room where visitors can write and fill "I Will" envelopes with what they can do to help. Whether it's donating, volunteering, praying or posting something on Facebook, Mhoon said there are all kinds of actions people can take. He added that they anticipate most visitors being junior high and high school students so even the smallest acts contribute to the cause.
"There's something everybody can do," he said. "All of that helps."
Carol Buchan, a graphic designer and volunteer helping with the exhibit, said the displays will be "quite a dose of reality" for people and make them feel like they are really on location.The Seattle resident got involved in the spring and has been helping to install the signage. She said she has had experience doing signage on boats but the size and proportions of the REAL. LIFE. work have been a bit of a chore because she has never done anything so big.
Despite these challenges, she is excited to see the exhibit when it opens — as is everyone else involved.
"This is great," Buchan said. "There's a lot of energy in the building right now."
REAL. LIFE. started at MTI's Tigard, Ore. location, where the organization began and is based. After seeing how successful and effective the exhibit was, MTI staff decided to expand and bring the exhibit to the Redmond MTI, which is the only location in the state.
Mhoon said planning for the exhibit began about two and a half years ago and construction has taken about a year. The exhibit is sponsored by former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and his family, who have been involved with MTI for the last three years.
"They really believed in the exhibit," Mhoon said.
One of the reasons MTI is able to have the exhibit in Redmond is because of the new building, which MTI bought and moved into more than a year ago. Mhoon said although MTI has had a presence in the Pacific Northwest for 14 years, buying a building in the area allows them to house the exhibit as well as host events.
"We have a permanent home," he said.
The exhibit opening will be paired with The BIG Run, a 5k fun run and walk to raise money for Haitian earthquake victims. The event, will begin at the MTI building and kicks off at 9 a.m. The fun run will also honor Matthew Bouthillier, an emergency room nurse at Swedish Medical Center in Issaquah who died of heart failure in Port-au-Prince. Bouthillier had been volunteering as part of a medical disaster relief team with MTI.
The BIG Run entry fee is $35, but anyone who registers before the day of the event will receive a $5 discount. Day-of registration and packet pick-up begins at 8 a.m. on run day.Mhoon said while planning the fun run and the exhibit opening, the timing just worked to have both on the same day. He said they are inviting residents to participate in the run and then visit the exhibit, but people are welcome to participate in just one event.
For more information about REAL. LIFE. or The BIG Run, visit www.medicalteams.org.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.