Medical Mission Trip

CMMB was founded by a doctor volunteer in 1912. Dr. Paluel Joseph Flagg, a young anesthesiology resident on the staff of St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City suffered tragic personal losses that led him to dedicate his life to the service of others.

Over 100 years later, CMMB continues to send volunteers abroad to serve the most marginalized and vulnerable in the some of the hardest to reach places in the world.

Mwandi Mission Medical Trip

The Mwandi Mission Medical Trip marks yet another of these life-changing journeys – this time for three highly qualified and dedicated doctors. Dr. Helene Calvet, Dr. Danielle Beidleman, and Dr. Rao Kadambari will serve alongside local health professionals, community health workers, and members of the communities surrounding the Mwandi Mission Hospital.

With the help of local health leaders, the team will also conduct an assessment, highlighting challenges and offering recommendations for addressing these challenges. They will also discuss ways of improving the medical mission trip model.

Follow their journey through this photo diary:

Meet the Team

Mwandi Mission Trip 2017 doctors

Dr. Helene, Dr. Danielle, Marcia Grand Ortega (international volunteer coordinator), and Dr. Roa.

Dr. Helene Calvet

Dr. Danielle Beidleman 

Danielle Beidleman volunteer on a mission trip to Mwandi, Zambia and intern in NYC

Dr. Rao Kadambari

Dr Rao Kadambari


Preparation and Traveling to Mwandi Mission Hospital

Livingstone debrief with CMMB project manager Elizabeth.

After lunch the team discuss the plan for the days ahead. Dr. Danielle and Dr. Helene take lots of notes.

The Journey to Mwandi Begins!

In the back of the truck heading to Mwandi Mission Hospital.

Mission trip coordinator, Marcia Grand Ortega and volunteer Dr. Helene take a selfie en route the Mwandi Mission Hospital. Making memories to last a lifetime!

Simba House in Mwandi Accommodation for Doctor volunteers

Simba House is where the team will rest their weary heads each night.

Tour of Mwandi Mission Hospital

Mwandi Mission Hospital Tour for volunteer doctors

Dr. Danielle and Dr. Rao get a tour of the Mwandi Mission Hospital.

A photo with Dr. Danielle and Mwandi Mission Hospital team

Dr. Danielle meets some of Mwandi Mission Hospital’s team – Nurses Irene and Faith

Hospital visit shows the issues with missing essential medicine and supplies. This photo shows one of two delivery beds

One of two delivery beds in the delivery room. The medical mission team notice that there are several issues with medical supplies, equipment and infrastructure as they tour the facilities.

Emergency transport is always an issue in the developing world.

The lone ambulance to serve more than 27,000 people in the Mwandi Mission Hospital area.

Erica is a volunteer with CMMB and has been in Zambia for several months. From Zimbabwe.

Marcia with CMMB volunteer Erica from Zimbabwe. She is public health volunteer who has been serving for 6 months with the Mwandi CMMB team.

Be sure to read Erica’s volunteer story. In it, she explains how an early tragic event in her life led her into global health and ultimately to Mwandi, Zambia.

Story of One Mother

A sick mother of two arrived to Mwandi Mission Hospital needing urgent medical care. After some initial tests the staff realized that what the mother needed was beyond the current scope of the hospital. They decided to transfer her to Livingston for a transfusion and medical procedure to improve her chances of a positive outcome. To read the full story click here.

Mother receiving care at Mwandi Mission Hospital

A sick mother of two who needs urgent medical care beyond the scope of this hospital.

Dr. Tembo talks to Dr. Rao at the district office in Mwandi.

At the district office meeting Dr. Tembo who offers a lot of insight to the team. He has been living and working in Mwandi for over twenty years. These meetings are key to understanding the context and building relationships.

Dr. Roa signs in the visitor's book. Mwandi Mission Hospital.

Dr. Roa signs in the visitor’s book during a courtesy visit to the district commissioner’s office. Being in partnership and building relationships with local leaders is key in having real impact.

team photo at the district office with Dr. Tembo and local member of the community

The medical mission team with Dr. Tembo, a mother and child from the community, and members of the CMMB Zambia team.

Team talks about the Mwandi district with CHAMPS coordinator Richard.

Richard our CMMB CHAMPS coordinator talks helps the team understand the area of Mwandi and the distance of different communities from the only referral hospital for miles and miles.

Mwandi 2017 population distribution.

Some key stats about Mwandi’s population

Our CHAMPS coordinator – Richard!

There are many challenges for the Mwandi Mission Hospital and other health facilities in the area. Lack of medical supplies and medicines is just one of them. As part of their mission, the medical team are working closely with health leaders and medical staff to identify areas of concern and make recommendations to make improvements with the aim of improving health outcomes.

A note about missing stock at Mwandi Mission Hospital

Our team of community health workers continues to grow. They are behind everything we do at CMMB – delivering care to the most vulnerable people living in the most remote and hard to reach places in Mwandi! As you an see our team is growing.

CHAMPS trained community health workers in Mwandi.


Hospital administrator Reverend and Namatama Mumbati. She is the most senior medical staff at the hospital on our visit.

The medical mission team have met many members of the health community. Here is a photos of hospital administrator Reverend and Dr. Namatama Mumbati. She is the most senior medical staff at the hospital on our visit.

Social worker, Stella and CMMB project manager Elizabeth.

Members of the CMMB Zambian team: Social worker, Stella and CMMB project manager Elizabeth Mushinda.


A typical street in Mwandi. During rainy season things can get very muddy.

A typical street in Mwandi.


Welcoming Baby Chuwa

Dr. Danielle helped to deliver a healthy baby girl, Chuwa at the Mwandi Mission Hospital on her first day in the maternity ward.

The mother is from a small village over one and a half hours drive from the hospital. She came to Mwandi a few week’s before her due date to stay with relatives. Not all mothers are lucky enough to have this option. The distance to a health facility with obstetric capacity is often impossible for mothers to cover. This accounts for many home births, often without the support of a trained birth attendant.

In 2016, there were nearly 31 million unattended births worldwide.

Dr. Danielle swaddles Baby Chuwa shortly after delivery. What a gift to be present at such a moment in a mother’s life.

Baby resting in Danielle's capable hands

Dr. Helene with Mr. Mwiya examining a parasite specimen.

Dr. Helene working alongside local health professional Mr. Mwiya examining a parasite specimen.

Building Capacity with Local Health Leaders

Dr. Danielle and Dr. Helene speak with local nurses

Dr. Danielle reviews information about medications with local nurses.

A baby is weighed. This is an key part of maternal and child health outreach in the community. Weight gain is the most important sign that a child is healthy and is growing and developing well.

Mental Health: Meeting a 30-Year Psychiatric Nurse in Mwandi

Dr. Rao working with Dr. Victor Mulengula, a psychiatric nurse. His story is as beautiful as it is heartbreaking. He joined the team on outreach to visit with patients

Dr. Rao works with Dr. Victor Mulengula, a local psychiatric nurse. He joined the team during outreach to visit with patients and the community.

The book that Dr. Victor is showing Dr. Rao is his psychiatry book and his only point of reference and documentation. He has had it since 1980. Dr. Victor has been in his role for over 30 years and is nearing retirement. He is worried about who will continue his work once he retires. He shared stories of waling 12 kms to visit one patient who sadly never came back for follow up. He knows this patient is alone and neglected but there just isn’t the capacity to reach those who so desperately need care.

The end of the day is the beginning of the debrief

And at the end of the day, the documentation and debrief begins.

The Medical Mission Trip Continues

As part of the mission trip, the doctors have spent a lot of time in the community. This included a visit to a local community school. Schools are important places in combating health. With limited access to clean, safe water and proper sanitation and hygiene, the possibility of disease and infection spreading is rife.

Dr. Helene and Marcia speak with the school master and SMAG member.

Dr. Helene and Marcia speak with the school head master and community health worker.

Dr. Helene and Marcia visit the community school to meet the children.

During the health outreach at a local community school, Dr. Helene and Marcia visit the children in the classroom.

Mental health. Volunteer doctor speaks about mental health.

Dr. Rao discussing mental health issues with local nurses. This is an issue too often overlooked but paramount to health outcomes.

Mwandi Mission Trip 2107

More discussions with local nurses. Such valuable conversations as volunteers build capacity and learn so much about the challenges facing rural health workers.

More discussions with local nurses. Such valuable conversations as volunteers build capacity and learn so much about the challenges facing rural health workers.

Maternal and Child Health

Our team attended a maternal and child health clinic. Here they capture the faces of some participants. These are mothers attending prenatal visits. They attend to everything – receiving critical information for a healthy delivery, including key information about HIV testing to reduce mother to child transmission. They are also asked to spread the word in the community so that all women are empowered with the information to make healthy decisions for themselves and their babies.

Maternal and child health in Mwandi.

Expectant mothers come for their first prenatal visit.

Involving men in pregnancy.

Some fathers also attend the prenatal visit. Having fathers on board is key to increasing health outcomes for women and children.

Couples Testing at the Maternal and Child Health Clinic

Rapid HIV testing in maternal and child health clinic.

Rapid HIV testing in maternal and child health clinic.

Rapid HIV testing at the maternal and child health clinic to reduce transmission. PMTCT

Couples HIV testing during maternal and child health clinic

ART clinic that dispenses HIV medici

Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) clinic that dispenses HIV medication.

Community visit with the psychiatric nurse

Community visit with a wonderful psychiatric nurse to assess the reasons for the patients non-attendance to the clinic.Patient is doing well. Nurse reduced medication and is planning to discontinue.

Dr. Rao meets with community members to discuss mental health and its impact on health.

Building Capacity

One of the key objectives of this medical mission trip is to build capacity of local staff. There have been many examples throughout this photo diary and here are a couple more.

A team photo after an exceptional symposium given by University of Zambia

Training nurse on how to measure fundamental height with a measuring tape, as a way to check growth of baby.

Training nurse on how to measure fundamental height with a measuring tape, as a way to check growth of baby.

Mentoring staff in the maternal and child health clinic

Mentoring staff in the maternal and child health clinic

Capacity building session with CHWs

Capacity building with community health workers who help educate their villages on safe motherhood, water, and sanitation issues. There was an additional focus on highlighting the importance of male involvement in the health of families.

Tippy Tap Demonstration

The tippy tap is a hands-free way to wash your hands used in rural areas where there is no running water. It is operated by a foot lever therefore reducing the chance for bacteria transmission.

The community health worker showed the team how the tippy tap works and talked about how it is part of an educational campaign to control infection rates and reduce the spread of diarrheal diseases.

Demonstration of how to use a tippy tap. Community education is key to improving hygiene and health outcomes.

A water, sanitation, and hygiene members demonstrates how the “tippy tap” works.

Medical mission trip attend the symposium

The medical team, along with many members of CMMB’s team and health professionals from Mwandi, attended at symposium delivered by a medical student from the University of Zambia.

After an exceptional symposium given by a University of Zambia medical student.

The team met with the medical student who led the symposium.

Mwandi Mission Trip 2017

A mother's shelter donated by CMMB to provide a safe place to await pregnancy for those living very far from health facilities

A shelter for mother’s that was donated by CMMB. This is part of an effort to provide expectant women who live far from health faculties and professionals reduce home deliveries a safe place to await deliveries.

Today, our mission team has returned home safe and sound. We hope this photo diary shared a little insight into what the day-to-day was like for our mission team. The work of CMMB volunteers is so important and we are thankful to have had the opportunity to share a glimpse of their work with you. 

Interested in Volunteering? Learn about opportunities to volunteer abroad.