International Relief Teams alleviates the suffering caused by poverty and disaster -- from the forgotten corners of the world to right here at home.

International Relief Teams is a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering by providing health and other supportive services to victims of disaster, poverty, and neglect, both internationally and domestically. 

During disasters, International Relief Teams chooses appropriate responses to leverage donor resources for maximum impact, including providing food, water, health kits, and medicines. 

During the recovery phase we provide construction materials and rebuild homes by hiring local labor and deploying skilled construction teams. 

International Relief Teams also builds healthy communities in developing countries, by providing medicines and medical supplies to hospitals and clinics, providing health, nutrition and educational support for vulnerable populations and deploying surgical and eyeglass volunteer teams. 

Since 1988, we have deployed more than 7,500 volunteers and provided $574 million in food, medicines, relief supplies, and volunteers services to families in need in 75 countries worldwide. 

Our Values

In the midst of hardship and suffering, we start with one person at a time. 

We believe in:

  • Partnership - We are stronger, more effective and efficient when we partner with organizations that have a strong presence in the field.
  • Equity - We want to make the world a more equitable place, which is why we target our efforts at vulnerable and marginalized populations.
  • Efficiency - We maintain a lean, dynamic staff in San Diego. We mobilize skilled volunteers and leverage strategic partnerships with organizations in the field, with the goal of achieving the greatest impact for every donated dollar.

IRT’s History

In 1986, San Diego attorney
and real estate broker Barry La Forgia, participated on a mission trip to Peru
where he helped construct shelters for impoverished people living in the Amazon
Jungle. He was so moved by the experience and the desperate needs in the world
that he returned to San Diego, left his law and real estate practices, and in
March of 1988 formed Southwest Medical Teams.

The concept of the newly
formed organization was to link people in need with teams of volunteers who had
the skills (both medical and non-medical) to meet those needs. By the end of
1988, Southwest Medical Teams had sent volunteer teams to Oaxaca, Mexico to
build a healthcare clinic, to the island of Jamaica to provide emergency care
for victims of Hurricane Gilbert, and to Armenia to treat thousands of people
injured by one of the largest earthquakes of the century.

In 1996 the name was changed
to International Relief Teams to more adequately reflect the work of the organization.
Throughout the years, International Relief Teams has responded to disasters
and/or conducted programs in the United States, Central and South America,
Eastern Europe, Asia, the South Pacific and Africa.

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