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Floating Doctors - bringing relief to the developing world

by Sail-World Cruising on 27 Jun 2011
Floating Doctors - medicos who go sailing to relieve suffering in the developing world SW
Floating Doctors is an all-volunteer, non-profit medical relief team dedicated to reducing the present and future burden of disease in the developing world. They go sailing to effect their mission.

It all started in Tanzania, 2005 with an empty backpack once filled with medical supplies. An aspiring American medical student was burdened with a sense unfulfillment when his supplies ran dry and scores of sick and injured villagers were left untreated.


Dr. Benjamin La Brot, from Topanga in California, remembers treating those with wounds, infections, and other ailments at the Masai Village. But what he remembers most about his trip is running out of medication and supplies before having the chance to treat the entire village. This powerless, overwhelming feeling served as motivation for the 33-year-old doctor to plan for a new mission; a mission to transcend the concept of providing effective aid and relief on an international scale that is both economically and environmentally friendly.

Inspired with his new idea, four years later La Brot headed a nonprofit group called the Floating Doctors who sailed for a year-long medical mission aboard a 76-foot sailboat that carried 15 crew members and 20,000 pounds of medical supplies.

They sailed to 15 countries in Latin America and the Pacific Islands. Their boat, Southern Wind, was donated by a Florida couple. A volunteer crew repaired the old boat into a fully functioning mobile medical vehicle. They visited Haiti, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Tuamotu Archipelago, Tonga, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Melanesia.

Now, in a new expedition, since May of 2010, a dedicated permanent crew and many visiting volunteers have voyaged to Haiti and along the Atlantic coast of Central America on their own year-long medical mission to provide supplies and assistance to existing relief groups, and to carry health services to remote locations that are cut off from care.

Floating Doctors works with local officials, relief groups and community leaders to identify and address specific needs in communities. Whether it be doing mobile clinics for remote island communities, providing advanced life support training for the fire department on Roatan, lending hands and the expertise of our volunteers in local clinics, coordinating and delivering supply shipments from international donors to local groups, or even transporting 12,000 pounds of lumber and material to Haiti and building two schools, Floating Doctors is about leaving the biggest possible, longest-term health benefits for the lowest expenditure of resources.

As the founder of the group Dr. Benjamin La Brot says, 'The Law of the Sea is always ‘stop and help’ because you never know when it might be YOU in trouble far away from any assistance. And if we all stopped and helped just a little, together we could accomplish great things.

'Sailing has made my dream possible, so I feel pretty indebted to those who came before and especially to those who, in the future, I hope will still have the opportunity hold their hand on the tiller and the feel of blue water under their keel.'

To learn more about this inspiring organisation, The Floating Doctors, and maybe donate, please visit their website at http://floatingdoctors.com/

Watch just one story below of a man the Floating Doctors discovered with a broken arm, untreated for two years:

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