East Texans Tackle African Poverty - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/6/05-Garden Valley

East Texans Tackle African Poverty

Pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria -- three of Africa's deadliest enemies.

"You're talking about somewhere between 15- and 16-million children a year that are dying because of malnutrition or treatable, preventable diseases," Dr. Glenn Strauss, an ophthalmologist, said.

Because of people like Dr. Strauss, thousands of children and adults each year get a second chance at life. Strauss and more than 340 other volunteers for Mercy Ships provide medical, dental, and eye care on vessels docked in West Africa.

"Will it completely eliminate poverty? Is that the goal? No, it's not the goal," Strauss, who's been with the missionary organization since 1998, said. "However, to be able to drastically reduce those numbers? Yes, that is a reality."

The biggest impact can be seen on the faces of children who are transformed. A little girl lives with a cleft lip until doctors from Mercy Ships performed life-altering surgery. Another girl has a tumor removed that was the size of her face.

"It's not an uncommon practice in West Africa to not even name your small child because you're not sure they're even going to survive," Strauss said.

For decades, the world's leaders and its people have offered aid to combat poverty. But the epidemic continues. So how will this attempt be different?

"It's also becoming more apparent that we have now tools and will to address the problem of worldwide poverty on a scale we've never been able to address it before," Strauss said.

With a global focus on poverty, Dr. Strauss hopes more people can go from blind to seeing and from disfigured to smiling.

Mercy Ships is always looking for more volunteers to help with anything from simple tasks locally to medical work overseas. Visit its website to learn more.

Julie Tam, reporting. jtam@kltv.com


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