We’ve been around the world and continue to expand our missions to new locations.
Children’s Surgery International travels to locations around the world where we have determined the need for our services to be great. Our volunteers have provided life-changing surgeries, in-country education and medical supplies for children, their families and medical professionals in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Liberia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam. Visit our photo and video gallery.
In January 2008, CSI went on its first mission to Liberia. Ravaged by years of civil war, most of Liberia’s infrastructure had been destroyed, and the need for medical attention was great. In the two weeks that CSI was there, we were able to provide basic medical care to over 200 residents, perform 60 surgeries and hold numerous lectures for local medical students.
Thanks to a close partnership with Firestone Natural Rubber initiated in 2010, CSI has been able to return annually. The missions are hosted at Firestone Hospital Duside, a hospital on the Firestone Natural Rubber Plantation, which was rebuilt after the war. The need for pediatric medical attention is great in the region, and many more children need care than we can see during a surgical trip. We are committed to providing training and education for local personnel so they can continue this important work after we leave.
A CSI surgical team returned to Liberia in January 2017, after a 3-year hiatus during the Ebola crisis in West Africa. CSI continues annual surgical trips to Liberia. Visit our Trip Blog to stay up-to-date with the surgical mission.
Our trip to Mexico has been an annual mission since 2005. Every October, 20-25 volunteers travel just over the border to CIMA Hospital in Hermosillo, Mexico. The partnership CSI has with CIMA hospital is in collaboration with St. Andrew’s Clinic in Nogales, Arizona. St. Andrew’s provides free, specialized medical care to children living in Mexico who cannot get or afford the care they need in their home country.
Because of the support of CIMA Hospital and St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic, CSI teams are able to follow children annually to evaluate their progress toward achieving more normalized speech, breathing, appearance and self-esteem. As in all of our locations, we work closely with our host hospital’s medical personnel. We provide instruction as well as educational resources as appropriate, but are always learning ourselves as well. This mission in particular is successful because of all the teamwork, dedication and investment of so many parties.
Thanh Hoa City, along Vietnam’s Ma River, is in the heart of the country’s poorest region. Many residents of the city, which is 150 km south of Hanoi, make their living working in the rice fields, some having done so since they were small children.
When CSI arrived in Thanh Hoa City for its first mission in September 2015, we anticipated screening 70 patients. More than 200 children were waiting for us, thanks to advance work done by our partner IPSAC, whose NGO status allowed CSI to add Vietnam to the list of countries we serve. The hospital and its professionals are eager to learn, and the need for this care in the region is great.
Thanks to a grant from the nonprofit Dollies Making A Difference, all children over age 6 who did not have insurance were able to avoid charges from the hospital in this communist country. A generous grant from the Sexton Foundation, as well as financial support from three CSI Partners who were also active mission team members, defrayed a large portion of CSI’s costs for the trip.
“The way you people work together, the way you are a team, the way you work together with our people, the way you help our people. It is a gift.” – Dr. Melesse Gebeyehu, urologist
CSI completed its first mission to Ethiopia in 2015. This mission was as unique and special as the country itself, thanks to our new partnership with Dr. Woubeshet Ayenew, cardiologist at Hennepin County Medical Center. CSI teams were in two Ethiopian cities concurrently, performing craniofacial, urologic and cardiac surgeries and providing critical education, training and mentoring to local physicians, nurses and families. Dr. Ayenew not only led the cardiac team in Addis Ababa, he was key to our overall success in making connections and building relationships.
In addition to training for physicians, CSI nursing volunteers worked side-by-side with Ethiopian nurses to teach them about medication dosing, postsurgical care and much more.
“I have the opportunity this week to learn from a surgeon who is absolutely extraordinary, more extraordinary than I could have ever imagined.” – Dr. Melesse Gebeyehu
CSI currently has biannual missions planned to Ethiopia.
In 2010, Fazly Alahi, a native of Bangladesh currently living and working in Minnesota with his family, contacted Children’s Surgery International. He had a dream to make a connection between the United States and Bangladesh that could bring much-needed medical care and education to his home country.
CSI responded, sending two experienced medical mission team leaders to accompany Fazly and conduct site evaluations in northern Bangladesh. Rangpur Medical College was chosen. The hospital is in the city of Rangpur, eight hours north of the capital, Dhaka.
CSI has sent two surgical missions to Bangladesh. Many children have benefitted from surgical procedures, and significant education and training has taken place. CSI’s partnership with Fazly and his extended family, as well as the Rangpur Medical College, were crucial in providing essential supplies, transportation, translation and support to our team.
Peru was CSI’s very first mission in 2003, and we have been back three times, in 2004, 2005 and 2009. Surgeries included both cleft and urological procedures and were performed at Hospital Honorio Delgado in Arequipa, and Las Mercedes Hospital in Chiclayo.
In September 2012 a team of eight Children’s Surgery International volunteers traveled to Tunis, Tunisia, to perform surgery on children suffering from spina bifida. The surgeries included correcting various spinal defects and placing shunts to drain cerebralspinal fluid and treat hydrocephalus. The CSI team worked closely with the staff at Souska Clinic, Dr. Azzedine Stombouli and Dr. Nejib Khouja along with his team. Dr. Khouja and his team were then able to continue this work after the CSI team returned to the United States.
The mission was successful, much in part to the collaboration and partnership with Souska Cinic. Families traveled from various parts of Tunisia and as far as 1,000 miles away in Algeria to seek help for their children.
In light of the devastation caused by the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the CSI Board explored how they could help the children living there. We wanted to make a commitment to a country that had suffered untold loss of life and was struggling to meet the basic needs of their children for both food and medical care. The fact that 50 percent of children die before age 5 was reason enough to make this mission a priority.
Shortly after the disaster, CSI contacted Fr. Rick Frechette, director of St. Damien’s Children’s Hospital in Port Au Prince, Haiti, and his hospital administrator worked with us to develop a mission. St. Damien’s is the only pediatric hospital in Haiti, which made this a critical location. In September 2010, an eight-person medical team went to Haiti and performed 38 surgeries for children in dire need. CSI was privileged to return to Haiti in April and September 2011.
CSI has been to Ghana three times, in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Surgeries included both cleft and orthopedic procedures and were performed at Komfo Anochi Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana.
This was a robust partnership that involved extensive hands-on training and information exchange with our in-country colleagues.
As a result of the focus on surgical and medical care, as well as professional training, after the third CSI trip, our Ghanaian medical colleagues determined they had gained the skills and confidence needed to safely perform craniofacial and orthopedic surgeries and care independently. Having achieved the ultimate success — sustainability — CSI was able to discontinue missions to this location as they are now self-sufficient.