SILOAM SPRINGS, AR – Earth Mission was founded in 1982 as a short-term mission platform. The mission projects were specifically opportunities for engineers, engineering students, and technicians to assist and support missionaries in countries like Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
They not only built and equipped structures, but they also created businesses that would benefit the local economies. Once completed, the business operations were handed off to different combinations of local churches and business partnerships.
Earth Mission underwent a radical change in 1993 after the founder’s son and daughter-in-law, Mitch and Caryl Ryan, joined the team.
Today, Earth Mission’s principal project is building a highly-functioning healthcare system for the Karen (ka-REN) people in the mountain villages of Myanmar and Thailand.
The Issue for the Karen
The five million Karen people are principally subsistence farming families living in small villages. Although they have little, they are characterized by their kindness and generosity.
Nonetheless, the Karen people suffer from a severe lack of access to adequate healthcare resources. For instance, the maternal death rates and the mortality rate of children under the age of five are staggering.
- The maternal mortality rate is more than 50 times greater than in the U.S.
- The infant mortality rate is 21 times greater than in the U.S.
What is more, the region suffers from extremely limited resources, including clinics, medicine, supplies, medical equipment, and electrical power.
The Initiative of Earth Mission
Earth Mission’s program is two-pronged with both medical and engineering components that will provide long-term benefits for the Karen.
The pulse of the project is the Physician Assistant Training Program. This is a five-year course operated in collaboration with the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW). The students are gleaned from the various remote villages and are educated in the best medical practices. In addition to the five years of medical education, students commit to another five years working under the auspices of the KDHW.
The heart of the project is the part that powers the pulse – the Engineering Technology Training Program. It is specifically designed in conjunction with the Physician’s Assistant Program.
“Without an Engineering Technology technician on-site, a Physician Assistant cannot provide high-quality healthcare.
Physician Assistants need a dry, clean place to store medicine and equipment.
They need electricity to take care of patients at night and run medical equipment . . . and charge their phones and computer to communicate with other doctors.”
The students learn engineering theory, fabrication basics, construction practices. They learn project management, site layout, math, English, critical thinking, computer technology, and electrical and power installation and management. They also learn how to rebuild engines.
Their final year of study focuses on hands-on work at the Earth Mission clinics. The engineering students also make a five-year commitment to continue working within the KDHW system.
The Impact of the Mission
Earth Mission’s work in Asia began in 2015 with four full-time and three volunteer workers. Today, there are 23 donor-supported medical staff members. In 2019 alone, Earth Mission physicians and clinics served nearly 12,000 patients.
Within the next nine years, Earth Mission’s goals include having 75 fully-trained and certified Physicians Assistants working in the remote areas of Myanmar and Thailand, where the Karen live. Within that time frame, they hope to have facilities and personnel strategically situated to be able to serve 150,000 patients per year.
Earth Mission is making high-quality healthcare and medical facilities available and sustainable.
If you would like to learn more about Earth Mission, you may access their 2019 Annual Report by clicking on the link.