Sahara Relief was created in 2008 after its founder, Dr. Jeffrey Peterson, witnessed first-hand the desperate need for basic healthcare services in the region, especially in relation to mothers and their children. In 2006-2007, Dr. Peterson served as expedition physician for the first successful attempt in modern times to cross the Sahara Desert on foot. This 4000-mile odyssey, which began in Senegal and ended in Egypt, involved 111 days of running across one of the world's most inhospitable climates. Given the extreme conditions, Dr. Peterson prepared himself to deal with virtually any medical issue that the runners might present. What he did not anticipate, however, was that those runners would not be his only patients, nor would they be the most challenging.
Over the course of the expedition, Dr. Peterson treated countless members of nomadic populations, the majority of whom were mothers and children On an almost daily basis, Mohamad Ixa, the expedition leader and Tuareg guide, would inform Dr. Peterson that there were 'beaucoup de malades nomads' who had come by camel in search of medical assistance. Most of the people had never received any sort of medical care before. After receiving treatment, many of Dr. Peterson's new patients asked him when he was returning to the Sahara to help them again.
Dr. Peterson promised to return to region to ensure that the people of the Sahara continue to receive the medical care they desperately need. Sahara Relief represents a fulfillment of this promise. The goal of the organization is to bring together modern medical techniques and supplies with local expertise, establishing a system of health care stations throughout the Sahara region and West Africa with sustainable delivery programs and medical education.
SaharaRelief's first major project will be carried out in collaboration with ONG-Tidene.org. This project will entail the construction of a hospital, surrounding health-care centers and public health training program in Boudari, Niger (Tidene Valley), located 100km north of Agadez. The construction of a small dispensary was completed in 2007 with funds and medical supplies donated by Dr. Peterson following the Sahara expedition.
For a detailed account of Dr. Peterson's experiences treating patients in the field, follow this link: