In 1985, Dr. Jack Faia and Dr. Mark Bayless began their international volunteer work in Sonora, Mexico, with Los Medicos Voladores (The Flying Doctors), and were involved in the founding of the Monterey Bay Chapter of LMV. For the next five years LMV organized and participated in monthly trips by small airplanes to remote areas of Mexico to provide dental care.
In 1990, Dr. Jack Faia and his wife Tina, daughter Melissa, and Bob Eason traveled to Guatemala City to treat the children’s dental needs at an orphanage operated by friends of Bob & Melissa. After treating the children in Guatemala City, they traveled to the Rio Dulce area for relaxation. While there, they met the people from Asociacion Rescate who asked them to treat the Ketchi Indians in that remote area.
Dr. Jack and seven volunteers returned to Guatemala in 1991 to provide dental care in affiliation with Rescue Now International (RNI), the parent organization for Asociacion Rescate. RNI provided the official sponsorship necessary to transport drugs and supplies into Guatemala. Dr. Jack and the volunteers treated people in Guatemala City at the Eason’s clothing factory, then returned to the Rio Dulce to see patients at the medical “clinic” on the island of Bacadilla, which had been built by Asociacion Rescate. At that time they had to bring their own dental unit and compressor, as well as all their own dental supplies. Because there had never been any dental treatment offered previously at the clinic on Bacadilla, the Indian’s overall health was very badly affected by their extensive dental needs. The entire group of volunteers were overwhelmed with the Ketchi Indians’ pain and suffering.
Since 1991, we have organized yearly dental missions, working only in the Rio Dulce area. Over 170 different people from the United States (teams of 8-24 each) have accompanied us on these subsequent missions. Everyone has felt a tremendous sense of satisfaction in helping the people in such a direct way. Originally, we had used RNI as our sponsor, because they satisfied all of the legal requirements to be a tax-deductible charity. We formed the Guatemala Connection in 1997 as an affiliate of RNI, so that we could narrow its focus and gain the help we needed to better accomplish our mission. Volunteers and donors usually gain more satisfaction when specific goals can be attained. In 1999, through the fund raising efforts of the Guatemala Connection, a dental annex was constructed near the original health facility. It had two dental units available as well as Dr. Jack’s original portable dental unit. This project has accomplished a definite improvement in the Indian’s dental health. We have continued to upgrade this clinic over the past 15 years. We started traveling to other destinations in 1998 with a trip to Belize. Since then we have also served less fortunate people in Argentina, Cambodia, Ecuador, Honduras, India, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Peru.
In the year 2000, we decided to form our own tax-deductible entity, International Health Emissaries. Our specific mission is to provide health care to people with no other access to such care. In addition, we train American volunteers to effectively represent the United States and learn the joy of helping less fortunate people in remote areas of the world. With our own organization, we can guarantee to our supporters that over 97% of all funds donated will go directly to the people we are serving.
We work with Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) from each of the host countries, because they will assist us in finding the neediest people and assist us in getting our equipment, supplies and medications through the unique customs requirements for each nation. Our NGO host’s mission is to improve the health and education of the people who live in their area. IHE also gives support to these educational efforts. By raising the education levels in addition to improving the health of the people, we are hopeful of raising their standard of living even further.