Veterans Donate Mobile Medical Unit to Nicaragua

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Thanks to a generous donation from Vets With A Mission (VWAM), we are thrilled to announce the arrival of PMI’s first clinic on wheels! This exciting new addition, which will be used by PMI in Nicaragua, will allow for mobile, quality care and more accessible services! The mobile medical unit we are receiving has a long history of service. It began its journey at Seacoast’s Dream Center in North Charleston, SC, providing additional space for free medical clinics to the community. The unit was then purchased by Vets With A Mission, a group of Vietnam veterans and non-veterans who are dedicated to bringing healing, reconciliation and renewal to the people of Vietnam. The intended purpose of the medical unit was its use in Vietnam, but unforeseen circumstances kept it from being sent there. That did not deter VWAM’s resolve to see this mobile medical unit serve those in need. Through a national search for a worthy and appropriate organization to transfer the mobile medical unit, PMI arose as their chosen recipient.

Chuck Ward, VWAM Executive Director, shared

“VWAM knows that PMI will utilize the mobile medical unit to its fullest potential in providing much needed medical care and health outreach in Nicaragua. We know that through the outstanding ministry of PMI, the impact on the people will be substantial and life-changing.”
We are beyond grateful to Seacoast Church and Vets with a Mission for this incredible gift of mobility. We look forward to continuing this unit’s rich history of service and cannot wait to see it in action in Nicaragua!

My Journey through Medical School :: Bina Sunday Alex


If you follow PMI, you may know Bina Sunday Alex (or you can watch his story here). He was one of our clinical officers at MKMC and was among our original 9 staff when we opened the doors to MKMC. Alex is currently attending medical school on a scholarship offered by PMI and will be giving us exclusive updates on his journey right here. Read on to learn about the holiday season in Uganda and follow his progress through school…

This time of year is all about preparing for the Christmas season in Africa. In my community, Christmas starts as early as July. Most families harvest “miracle seeds” that are rumored to turn into money by December! Another wives tale in our land is that when the grasshoppers come, if you catch a lot of them, you will have a great Christmas. Grasshoppers are a delicacy in some communities in Uganda, and they are sold everywhere in the markets during November (Have you ever eaten a grasshopper?).

To me, this Christmas season is about harvesting good grades in my second semester. I worked hard and passed my first semester at medical school, and I am excited to continue along this path. We are learning lots of new things and were recently introduced to Community Based Education Research and Management Services (COBERMS). This semester, we will be paired with communities to study their health and interaction with the environment. Last week we were introduced to the community we’ll be working with over the next five months. I was fascinated by the fact that our community is rich in food resources, yet each family has a malnourished or stunted child. Why are there so many children suffering from malnutrition when this area is a food basket of the region?

We have only touched the tip of the iceberg, and I look forward to working with and studying this community in the upcoming months. As I continue in my studies, I cannot fail to say thank you to PMI and those who continue to make the organization what it has become today.

You are touching millions of people across the globe without knowing it. May God bless you all.



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Meet Our New Regional Director – Central America


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With our latest hire, we are fortunate not to just be adding one, but four people to the PMI team! TJ McCloud is joining PMI as our Regional Director in Central America. TJ will be moving to Nicaragua with his wife, Holly, and two children, Ian and Isla.

We had the joy of hosting TJ and Holly at our US headquarters last week. There’s a lot more than meets the eye with this couple, as we found out in an exclusive interview with TJ. Check it out.

Why do you want to work for PMI?

I was really impressed with the vision for sustainable healthcare access. In my work and travel, whether it has been short-term or long-term, it’s been really clear that access to healthcare can absolutely change people’s lives. It allows them to take care of their families. It allows them to start businesses and be involved in other people’s lives. When your access to healthcare is so fragile or nonexistent, one little thing cannot just ruin your life, but it can take your life. As Holly and I thought about what are some areas where we feel passionate and want to get involved with in the developing world, healthcare was definitely on the top of the list. I’m not necessarily a healthcare guy; I’ve been involved in music and ministry and missions, but I do know that being able to encourage, support and sustain the development of PMI’s work is going to change a lot of people’s lives. That’s an exciting role.

Tell us a little bit about your background:

My wife and I are originally from Oklahoma. She bounced around, but both our families have roots there. I have lived in Nashville for the last 10 years off and on. During that time, I worked and lived in the Dominican Republic for 3 of those years, all while staying connected to our Nashville community.

I was originally a singer/songwriter. I spent about 8 years touring and recording professionally, first with a band and then as a solo artist. Those experiences continued to deepen my love for travel and the developing world. I got to see places I would have never seen otherwise.

Could you tell us a little bit more about your band?

Music has always been a creative outlet for me. Somewhere in high school I realized that girls really like guys who play guitar and sing, and people would actually pay me to do it. That realization set me on a 10-year journey of playing music. It’s how I got through school. My band was a regional act through TX, OK, Kansas and Arkansas. Then one day we got a phone call from this lady with a funny accent. She said, “is this TJ McCloud of the band Stephen Speaks?” Come to find out she was from a band management group in Manila and we had a number 1 hit and a platinum album in the Philippines and other parts of Asia. We ended up having several number 1 hits in the Philippines and toured there several times. Here we were, college students, eating ramen and sleeping through our finals; then we showed up to the Philippines and were treated like rock stars. It was the most surreal experience of my life.

How did you make the transition into mission work?

Holly and I have been married 11 years now. We met on a mission trip to the DR. During that time we both fell in love with each other and with the developing world. It’s been a shared passion of ours all our lives. One of the things I was originally drawn to about Holly is that she was so interested and excited about the world and wanted to jump into it. And I did too.

At some point, we felt like we wanted to transition to fulltime missions. That’s when we moved to the DR and started a youth outreach center there. We focused on mentoring, education and spiritual development programs for street children.

What is one of the biggest lessons you learned during your time in the DR?

People are capable of anything if they have the right resources and encouragement. We spent a lot of time around kids who did not think of themselves well, did not expect much of themselves nor have access to adequate resources. We found when some of those things were augmented (when we helped them access, were able to pour into their lives and help them see themselves in healthy ways) they could do anything.

Do any of the kids you worked with stick out in your memory?

One of our kids, a guy named Randy, loved baseball. All Dominicans love baseball, but there was something really special about this kid. He was from a rough background, had a hard time at home and was wild on the streets, but everyday he would go to the field with his duct tape baseball glove and play.

I got a Facebook message from Randy last year. He had been called up from Dominican League and was playing AAA ball in Kentucky for the Twins. He was obviously special, had special talent. It was a really cool thing to see him succeed and to know somehow we were a part of that. God used us somehow, and that’s really exciting. The ministry is still going strong (Manna Global Ministries).

So then what?

After the DR, we moved back to the states, and I worked in a church doing young adult spiritual development. I really enjoyed that. Young adults have such an awesome ability to do things that others can’t, because they have not set their feet firmly in one thing. They have the ability to do a lot of different things and make an impact. Some of our young adults were really excited about clean water, and that group has started a water ministry that has built 1500 wells.

All those experiences continued to reveal a deeper desire to be involved in developing world ministry. So now one of my favorite things is to combine the two – to use creative arts in the developing world. I’m excited to get down and meet some local musicians in Nicaragua and make some music with local kids.

Stay tuned to hear about the McCloud’s transition to Nicaragua. And until then, enjoy a little bit of TJ’s former life

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3 Ways to Succeed in International Development

Bugarama, Burundi
Bugarama is a beautiful town in the Muramvya province of Burundi where PMI’s clinic will be located.

As we spend time working in international development and implementing successful projects, our expertise on operating in the developing world has grown. With that experience, we are always learning new lessons based on the circumstances surrounding us. Some of our most recent lessons were learned this past August in the beautiful country of Burundi.

We sent a team of 18 eager volunteers to provide medical care to hundreds of people in the Muramvya province, just an hour and a half east of the capital, Bujumbura. The team arrived with wide eyes and eager excitement to serve the people of Burundi. The trip began without a hitch and everyone loved getting to know one another and preparing for a week full of medical outreach. All was business as usual when we arrived at our first clinic site, set up, and enthusiastically began seeing patients on our first day of outreach. That is, until the Ministry of Health (MOH) arrived.

After examining our program, we were told we did not have permission to conduct medical clinics. Months of excitement, weeks of training, and unbridled anticipation all came to a screeching halt. Throughout the next week, we pushed and pulled and tried and failed to acquire final approval for our team of medical volunteers to operate. We were unable to accomplish the one task we came to do. We always tell volunteers to be flexible, but never had expectations so vastly been unmet. While natural inclination might be to do things our own way, pay a bribe, or just go home, we knew each of those measures would bring highly undesirable ramifications. So we did the opposite. Taking a look at the three things you should always do to succeed in international development will align your vision with that of your partners and position you for long-term success in your efforts.

Work within the system.

No matter what country you are operating in, there is a pre-existing system. If you’re in agriculture, there is a market. If you’re in healthcare, there is a hospital. If you’re in education, there is a school. The quality of that system is not the issue at hand. We are talking about the local leadership, customs, and structure. If your intention is to operate within a certain economic system, you must act within the preexisting boundaries. Part of the goal of your project might be to expand those boundaries, but understand that will happen with time and you must meet your partners where they are. Change takes time. In order to create lasting change, you must gain the trust and respect of local leadership. They are the experts. Walking into a space assuming you already have the answer is the wrong answer. Take time to listen and learn to gain a full understanding of context. Doing so will not only make your program stronger to meet targeted needs, but you will also build a wave of support from the very community you wish to serve.

Work with integrity.

Through each of our projects, we are resolved to build a positive reputation and conduct business in an honest, exemplary way. This may mean slowing down timelines and spending additional time getting to know all stakeholders. Our goal is to build a reputation of integrity in the regions we serve, and every choice we make as an organization builds our reputation for years to come. If you want to be held in high esteem and trusted by your colleagues, partners, and patrons on the ground, you must maintain the integrity of your process no matter what the cost.

Keep going.

If you’ve worked in international development for any length of time, you have undoubtedly hit a wall. Right when it seems you are making progress, there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles. This is not the time to throw in the towel. This is the time to step back, examine the situation, reevaluate your methods and keep going. Your evaluation of the situation might alter your approach and you could learn some very valuable things during this time – things that would have never been revealed without the stark wake-up call. Rather than swearing off ever returning to Burundi with another medical team, we conducted a thorough debrief with our partners on the ground. We spent time assessing what went wrong, learning what we could do to avoid those obstacles in the future, and planning our next trip.

As we move forward in the country of Burundi, we are thankful for the relationships that were strengthened in August and the excitement of our partners as we continue to bring quality medical care to our friends in this beautiful country. The people we work alongside are worth every effort, and that is why we will keep going.

You can learn more about our projects by clicking here, and you can help us build more medical centers across Central America and East Africa by donating here.

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Our Team is Growing!

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We highly recommend you take advantage of our new office hours and stop by between 10am-2pm because this congenial face will be the one to greet you! Claire Kendall recently joined the PMI US team as our Office Manager, and we could not be more excited to have her. Claire’s eye for detail and knack for organization is just what we need to keep the wheels running smoothly around here. Check out what we learned about her during lunch today…

Why did you want to work for PMI?

When I changed my major to Communications in college, I knew I wanted to work for a social enterprise or a nonprofit that had a sustainable model. It didn’t matter if it was a for-profit or nonprofit – I wanted to be a part of something that was doing good work, producing results, and benefitting people. I tailored my studies to that end. I also like people. I found that even before I became a Christian, I loved to volunteer with people – being able to help them in some way. Everything that PMI stands for is what I wanted to work for.

What inspires you?

I’m really inspired by Jesus Christ, and the way he lived his life. How could you not be? The way he formed relationships with people, the way he lived life with others, the way he loved, they way he spoke truth, the way he offered sacrifice for them – and none of it was conditional on getting anything in return. I’m just trying to live my life for him everyday, even though I’m a flawed human being.

What are your favorite things to do when you aren’t hanging out at the hottest office in Charleston?

I like to travel and go places I can do something active like hiking or extreme sports.

What is your favorite extreme sport?


What’s your favorite place to travel?

That’s hard – it’s between out west, like Colorado or Utah, and the North Shore of Hawaii.

What’s the first thing people say when they learn you got married at 23?

They take the Lord’s name in vain. It surprises people that I’m married because I look like I’m 17. But hey, when you know, you know. Plus, I married a hunk.

If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and what would you want to learn?

I would love to have a cup of tea with Jesus. I would also like to meet Charles Spurgeon. His ministry looked a lot like Jesus’s, and I’d like to learn how he did that. He was a very influential person and lived a very selfless life.

What are you most excited about in your new job?

I am excited to form lasting relationships and deepen relationships with my co-workers. I am hoping to use my gifts to serve other people, and I’ll be excited if I get the chance to speak Spanish to some people.

(FUN FACT: Claire studied Communications and Spanish in Spain where she became fluent in the language.)


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Behind the Scenes :: On Tour with NEEDTOBREATHE

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If you’ve been around PMI for any amount of time, you may have heard of us brag about our friends, NEEDTOBREATHE. They wrapped up their last tour promoting their newest album, Rivers in the Wasteland, on Sunday. Their soulful, honest music has grabbed the attention of multitudes of fans across the world. Whether you’re tapping your toes to “The Heart” or swaying rhythmically with your loved ones to “Brother,” they have created an anthem for everyone.

Their music would be sufficient for a lifetime of admiration, but the soul of this group does not end with their encore. If you attended a concert, you might have noticed $1 from your ticket sale was donated directly to PMI. Thousands of dollars were raised for our life-saving projects in Central America and East Africa all through the generous initiative of the band.


But that’s not all. While the audience blissfully enjoyed the music from stage, band members Bear Rinehart, Bo Rinehart and Seth Bolt decided they wanted to do more. Seeing tour as a unique opportunity to engage people with a cause they care about, they gave PMI VIP access at each of their concerts. Then they let us bring friends – creating a special space for fans to meet the band while learning more about PMI. This introduced new relationships, sparked meaningful conversation, and spread the work of PMI across the East Coast. These guys put on a great show, but they choose to make it about more than the music – using their platform to help us spread ours.

Bear, Bo, Seth, Steve, John, and everyone who made this happen, thanks for letting us tag along.

1411133231.162186.IMG_2291_900pxPhoto by Katie McKenzie

Like NEEDTOBREATHE? Like golf? Then join us for the NEEDTOBREATHE Classic Golf Tournament on March 23, 2015! Click here to register today!

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Peace Corps + MKMC

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We are thrilled to welcome the newest addition to our team at Masindi Kitara Medical Center. Lynda Krisowaty will be spending the next two years with us in Masindi growing our public health curriculum through the Peace Corps.

Lynda hails from New York, and has a rich history of experience across public health and education sectors. Most recently having received her Master of Health Science in Mental Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, she is interested in marrying her interests of mental health and the developing world. Through the grassroots experience she gains in working with the Peace Corp and MKMC, Lynda hopes to gain experience that will help her work on behalf of those with mental health issues in the developing world.

As soon as she arrived in Masindi Lynda dove in and joined PMI’s August medical team at outreach and worked with Village Health Teams (VHT) to teach about proper nutrition along with other public health initiatives. Part of her role with the VHTs was to review the curriculum together before presenting the material to the patients. As she continues to gain an understanding for the preexisting programs in Masindi, she will be able to strengthen and expand our initiatives.

We are thankful to have Lynda on our team for the next two year, and we will keep you posted with updates on her projects!

Patient Spotlight :: Baby Tumwesige

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It was the August Uganda team’s second day of clinic when a 6-month old baby named Tumwesige was brought in with a fever of 102.5 and a rapidly growing, unidentifiable mass on her abdomen. The child’s mother said that she first noticed the mass on Friday, which had since grown in size to its current baseball resembling state.

After a thorough assessment by the PMI team, it was determined that the abscess was a threat to the child’s life and needed to be removed. Without appropriate equipment in the field, the team immediately referred the child to MKMC for further examination and an IND (incision and drainage). The child’s family agreed to go to MKMC with their referral, and that they had sufficient funds to pay any medical bills incurred.

It was not until the next day the team received news of Tumwesige’s status. With great excitement Dr. Godson Senyondo, MKMC’s Medical Officer, reported that the baby had arrived, been assessed, and the abscess had been removed. Tumwesige’s fever had left, and she was recovering wonderfully in MKMC’s Inpatient Department. Later in the week, the doctors who had initially assessed the baby in the field were able to stop by MKMC and see how well she was recovering.

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PMI Volunteers, Dr. Greg Barabell and Henry Gass, were happy to pay a visit to their little friend and her thankful mother.

This story highlights the valuable synergy between PMI’s short-term teams and our long-term presence. In sending quarterly teams of medical volunteers, we are able to blanket large areas with medical care and identify patients who need follow-up at our clinic. Having a long-term presence on the ground allows for cases like Tumwesige to be cared for to the full extent of their need. Tumwesige, along with many other patients we have had the privilege to treat, would have died had it not been for PMI’s intervention.

Uganda Team :: Free Day

Waking up in Masindi this morning, our team had a sense of accomplishment from the hard work each of us put in this week.  Breakfast was at 7AM this morning, a little later than usual which means we had our first day to sleep in.  After breakfast, we packed up the vans and hit the road to have our day of fun and relaxation.  Our destination was the Para Lodge in Murchison National Park of Uganda.

We arrived at the front gates of the national park after about an hour drive.  We then proceeded through a forest with dirt roads and miscellaneous animals on the side of the road.  Finally, we got to see some monkeys!

We reached the Nile River after about 1 more hour of driving through the beautiful hills.  The vans loaded onto a barge to cross the river, where we happened to see a family of hippopotamus lounging in the shallow water.  On the other side of the Nile River, our hotel was located the top of a hill about a quarter mile away.  The front view of the hotel has a waterfall and an architecture that resembles something out of Jurassic Park.  We entered the lobby and were greeted with mango juice and a cool towel to wipe off sweat and dirt from the car ride.  Since there was no real agenda, everyone split into their rooms, took naps, went to the pool, looked around the hotel, and got massages.

A delicious buffet was served for lunch where we gluttonously stuffed our bellies.  I don’t think anyone waited, per historical doctor myths, the recommended 15 minutes before swimming.

Our safari started at 4PM.  Two land rover-like SUV’s and one of our trusty vans were used to take our group though the protected animal kingdom area of the park.  We saw a family of elephants about 5 minutes into the journey.  Everyone started snapping pictures and “ewing and awing” at the incredible sights we were witnessing.  We went on to see giraffes, elk-like animal, deer-like animals, reindeer-like animals, bambi’s, water buffalo, monkeys, muskrats (Timone), hippos, and a couple other miscellaneous animals.

Two of the cars finally found a lioness at dusk and came close to nearly blinding her with an escapade of flashes, headlights, and flashlights.  Good thing she had a small appetite and lots of patience.  After she worked the camera, we moved on to go save our brethren in the 3rd SUV that had a driver straight from Ricky Bobby’s drivers ed class.  “Shake and bake” was his style of driving in an eager attempt to find the lions before the other cars.

At this point in the safari, it is pitch black out with an illumination of stars and the Milky way above.  The tire got changed within a few minutes and we began heading back, whilst still riding on top of the van.  About 20 minutes pass, and we come across a mama elephant and her baby elephant on the middle of the dirt road.  She felt threatened and stood her ground, stomping and making noises that elephants make.  We felt rather vulnerable on top of the van with no protection and a frightened elephant in our path.  After a minute stare down, she directed her baby elephant off the road and we continued back to the hotel.

We are back at the hotel and have had a wonderful time in Uganda.  Thank you for your support and prayers throughout this journey.  Godspeed.

Michael Pruitt & Megan Jamison

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Burundi Team :: Final Day

Hello all! My name is Charlotte Basala and I am 15 years old. I am on this trip with my mother and grandmother and experiencing Africa for the first time. This trip had overwhelmed me in so many ways. The people here are wonderful and have truly changed my life forever. I have made so many new friends on this trip so far, some from the states and some here on the ground in Burundi. I would like to share with you all the fun day we had today with the team and translators at Club du Lac. The club we went to was very nice and a good closing activity to a challenging trip. Upon arrival we learned that some, if not most of the translators had never been to a club like that in their entire lives, so it was fun to be able to share a new experience with them. Once we arrived and got some lunch while relaxing under the Burundian sun, the real fun began. Some of the other team members and myself taught the translators how to swim. This was no easy task. So as we all splashed around in the pool, we were able to teach everyone to try to float and almost successfully do a handstand. All in all it deemed to be a great learning experience for all and we got to bond over something that seems like such a normal life skill to most Americans. I will truly miss this team and am already having a hard time writing about them. There were so many different personalities intermingling on this trip and it was a blessing to see how we all brought out things in each other that we normally wouldn’t see. I have seen different sides of everyone on this trip that few people get to experience and I am glad for it. Tonight at dinner, our last dinner together, everything felt normal and it was such a cool experience for me to be able to look around the table at the faces of people who I didn’t know a week ago and smile at the way we all connected on a certain level and to know we have all been through the same adventure and will be changed somehow. Maybe we wont see it now, in ourselves, or in others but eventually something that we learned on this trip will change something within us and my biggest hope is to be able to translate that over to my everyday life and the people that I surround myself with everyday because we know that trips and life experiences like these are rare. Thank you!


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