The Rancho Mirage-based non-profit organizes annual medical missions to some of the poorest regions of Central and South America and Asia

Carina Briones gave birth to her daughter, Alondra, last year. Photo credit to Marilyn Chung

When 26-year-old Carina Briones gave birth to her daughter, Alondra, in Esteli, Nicaragua last year, she was immediately stricken with grief.

Not only did her daughter have a cleft lip and a cleft palate, but her fingers were fused together and she was missing her right foot.
But Nicaraguan doctors told Carina and her husband not to worry because volunteer surgeons from Rancho Mirage-based IMAHelps were planning a medical humanitarian mission to Nicaragua and they would be able to help her.

And sure enough, when IMAHelps volunteers arrived, they separated Alondra’s fingers and closed her cleft lip. And when they return to Nicaragua this summer, they plan to repair her cleft palate.

photo credit to Marilyn Chung

“Our volunteers bring healthcare and hope to people who often have no hope,” said Ines Allen, IMAHelps president and founder, adding, “We often find ourselves in situations where we really can make a difference and change people’s lives. We do this for literally thousands of people.”

Last year, for example, IMAHelps volunteers have provided $11.2 million worth of medical and dental services to 12,393 people in Esteli, Nicaragua, including 113 life-changing surgeries.

Perhaps even more astounding, IMAHelps volunteers provided this level of care using only $60,000 in donations. That’s a return on investment (ROI) of $187 for every dollar donated to IMAHelps.

“We can do this because we have no administrative overhead,” Allen said. “IMAHelps is run by volunteers. We pay for our own flights and most of our travel costs. We use donations to cover the cost of purchasing and shipping medicines and medical supplies to the hospitals where we work. We also use donations to cover the cost of private bus transportation to ensure that our volunteers are safe and comfortable while they are working outside the U.S.”

IMAHelps is currently working to raise $80,000 to cover the costs of its July 25th to Aug. 5th medical mission to Jinotega, Nicaragua, a coffee growing region that is considered to be among the poorest in the country.

“We have assembled a team of more than 80 volunteer doctors, surgeons, pediatricians, gynecologists and support staff and we expect to provide critical healthcare services to more than 10,000 people,” Allen said, adding that IMAHelps volunteers plan to repair Alondra’s cleft palate at that time.
“We want her to be able to eat, talk and breathe like the rest of us,” Allen said.”

photo credit to Marilyn Chung

IMAHelps is also organizing future medical missions to Tibet and Peru. For more information, please visit www.IMAHelps.org.