Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

2011 Rosa Mystica Health Mission Schedule

2011 Rosa Mystica Health Mission Program:

Duration: July 25-30.  
Orientation and set-up: Jul 24.
Mission Proper: Jul 25 -Jul 30.
Mission ends @ 12 NN, Jul 30.

Place:  Quezon City.
Arrival day for foreign volunteers: Jul. 23.

Registration of volunteers is going on, dear friends. 
Whoever wishes to serve again may please text Nurse Sheryl @ 09214931960.
Foreign volunteers, kindly email your itinerary for lodging and transportation arrangements.

Thank you for your continued concern for the less fortunate.  May the good God be your consolation and reward.  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February 01, 2011: Hail to Notre Dame!

ACIM Asia, for the second time around, joined the foundation anniversary of  Notre Dame of Tacurong College last February 01, 2011 in the Medical-Dental outreach which was part of their week-long Diamond Jubilee celebration (January 31 – February 05, 2011).

The event was impressively organized as they had pre-identified the indigent patients who were served properly according to their needs such as medical consultation, dental extraction, cyst removal and eye diseases consultation. Through the support of partner organizations - Sultan Kudarat Provincial Mobile Hospital, Tacurong City Health Office, Alumni of the college, 33rd  Infantry Battalion and ACIM Asia, the NDTC Jubilee mission was able to serve 241 patients in medical consultation, 76 patients in dental extraction, 60 patients in ophthalmologic consultation, and 9 patients in cyst removal.

Working with the Philippine Army's 33rd Infantry Battalion has brought ACIM-Asia to this Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao missions.  It is a pleasure to be able to reach out in simple acts charity through medical, dental and surgical services.

We hope our presence and our services were able to encourage the community to strive for unity and progress based on Christian principles of justice and charity.  The theme of the jubilee was “NDTC: Excel Beyond Diamond Jubilee”.  We hope that the quest for excellence brings the people to the highest good:  GOD.  Way to go, Notre Dame of Tacurong!  May your education mission bring peace to Mindanao.

January 27, 2011: Smiley Express - A Mission Under Threat

January 26 was plainly a veterinary civil action program, which literally meant vaccinating and treating cows, carabaos, goats and other farm animals of the locals. That left the medical team free to board the US Navy vessel and travel ahead to the next mission area which would be served the following day.

January 27 was the day of the Smiley Express Mission.

The team number was reduced after 3 days on the road, but, as usual, the number of patients grew.  We were blessed to still have with us the strong 73rd IB of Philippine Army, 11th Mechanized Company, 1002nd Brigade Military Ward and US Joint Special Operations Task Force Mindanao to cater to the growing number of patients.  Newly-elected honorable mayor Maulana of Palimbang accommodated the volunteers for the night. His hospitality was touching.  Apart from the tasty dinner and breakfast, he prepared a glorious display of fireworks to welcome the mission team!

Palimbang is a far-flung town in Sultan Kudarat, a 4-hour drive from General Santos City.  It lies just beyond the western border of Sarangani Province. It sits along the western coast of southern Mindanao, and is strategically positioned directly across Abu Sayyaf territories Basilan and Sulu, separated only by the beautiful waves of the Mindanao sea, where vessels of Abu Sayyaf militants and pirates freely roam.  The beautiful shores are mostly pristine and unexploited, as no tourist would bask in the largely unprotected coastline.

The municipality is the biggest in Sultan Kudarat, with 40 barangays. It is not readily accessible as constant armed conflict makes infrastructure development difficult to sustain. Because of inaccessiblity, health services are few and infrequent, so the locals are very keen and on the lookout for any free medical, dental, and minor surgical services.  
About 1,400 patients were registered for the day.

The medical team was composed of 1 local doctor from Municipality - Dr. Cruz; and 3 medics from US Army Joint Operations Special Task Force Mindanao (Civil Affairs Team and LCE) namely SSG Joshua Carroll, SSG Micha Van Wagner and SSG Edwin Torrescortes.
  The dental team was composed of Dr. Nelda Nisperos of ACIM Asia, Dr. Diono of Military Ward, and the Municipal Dentist.

The minor surgical team was composed of the 1002nd brigade military ward personnel who were assisted by 2 Filipino volunteer nurses.

The pharmacy team were made up of 1 Filipino nurse, 2  French volunteers from ACIM-Asia and 2 Filipino Auxiliary.

A security threat, particularly of abduction, clouded the mission with foreboding.  We could not ignore the security threat so we had to shorten the working time but we pressed on to serve as many patients as we could, working full speed to maximize time and resources.  Despite the short working time, we were able to serve 712 medical patients, 149 dental patients, 36 circumcision patients and 10 surgical patients (cyst removal).

Bravo to the brave team!  None but the brave can voluntarily serve with a smile on an ominous day! God have mercy on the locals.  May they know God and peace in their days.

January 25, 2011: Building Bridges of Peace

This day’s mission was in Pananag, Maasim, Sarangani Province, about 1 hour drive westward from General Santos City.  The plan was to go farther up west along the shores of Mindanao sea in the next days. The team was composed of the 73rd IB Philippine Army, the US Civil Affairs Team 734 and from the US Army Joint Special Operations Task Force Mindanao and Philippines, the Provincial Health Office of Maasim and ACIM Asia.

This day, Dr. Romeo Teves, the hospital administrator of Socsargen hospital, also a member of ACIM-Asia, replaced Dr. Emely Lagare at the consultation table. With him at the consultation area were Dr. Loot and the medics of the US Army Civil Affairs Team. Dr. Nelda Nisperos served in the dental services department, and was assisted by Thomas du Chalard.  Nurse Marie du Chalard manned the assessment area, while nurse Sheryl Ocampo, RN, Thierry Bianco and Elaine Salazar took charge of the pharmacy section.
SSG Micha Van Wagner examines a baby
during the medical c

Some 360 patients were served in medical consultation area, 102 patients were attended at the dental extraction department,43 patients served at the circumcision table and 2 were catered at the cyst removal area.

We hope that our simple health services will have built bridges with the community and planted some encouraging thoughts in the minds of local warriors to lay down their arms, live and labor with order, peace and moderation, and engage in rational and peaceful resolutions in case of conflicts.

January 24, 2011: The Peace Mission

Today we commenced the 4-day medical-dental-surgical mission in Sarangani Province, in cooperation with the 73rd Infantry Battalion of Philippine Army, US Army Civil Affairs Team 734 and other teams from US Army Joint Special Operations Task Force Mindanao and the US Civil Affairs Team Philippines led by Lt. Col Edmund Oliveros.

The US Civil Affairs team came straight from Zamboanga and docked in Sarangani coast to lend their hands to the 4-day activity envisioned to promote sustainable peace and development in the area.

This day we were in Tinoto Elementary School along Sarangani Bay in Maasim town, about 40 minutes drive from General Santos City.

The spirit to serve was high. We were able to attend to 431 medical, 152 for dental patients, 40 circumcision patients and 2 cyst-removal patients. 

ACIM Asia was represented by 7 volunteers; namely: Dr. Emely Lagare 2 Filipino Nurses, 2 French, 1 Swiss and 1 Filipino Auxiliary who were appropriately stattioned in the medical area, pharmacy, and vital signs assessment area.  

The activity was supported by the Provincial Vice Governor's Office; the Provincial Health Office; and Pacquiao Foundation, which augmented the medicine supplies.

 The Head of Division of the Philippine Army was there, together with the Head of the US Army Joint Special Task Force for Mindanao, Major Philippe Brown, who personally expressed his appreciation for the support that ACIM Asia had been giving to the MEDCAP, and he verbalized that he was glad to work side by side with the ACIM-Asia volunteers.

It is our honor to be able to contribute to peace-building in Mindanao.  It would be our joy to eventually help the war-torn communities to reach out to the loving and peaceful God.  Peace, brothers... May the peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all! 

January 17-21, 2011: Grand Homecoming of the Noble Hearts

Per request of the Provincial Vice Governor of Sarangani, ACIM-Asia assisted in the organization and the conduct of the grand medical-surgical mission of the Philippine Medical Society of Northern California (PMSCN).

We helped find sponsors for the food of the volunteers and fortunately found a firm support from the Director of the Student Affairs of the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, who agreed to sponsor a snack for 200 volunteers.

The medical – surgical mission was held in Sarangani Province Capitol last January 17-21, 2011, serving almost 3,000 patients who availed free surgery and medical treatment. Major surgeries were done at Socsargen County Hospital, while minor surgeries and medical consultation were conducted in the Capitol Grounds of Sarangani.
Majority of the medical volunteers came from northern California.  Most of them were Filipinos who came especially to serve their fellow Filipinos for free.

Two members from ACIM-Asia came to lend a hand in the minor surgery and the dental extractions.

A grand dinner waited for us at the last night of the mission.  The Swiss volunteer Thiery Bianco was so excited to have the autograph of the great Manny Pacquiao, who hosted the thanksgiving dinner.  It was a grand night, capping a grand mission.  Next year, the PMSCN will be in Mindoro, in central Philippines.

December 13-14, 2010 Midconding, Maguindanao Mission

This will be the last Peace Mission for the year 2010, a hopeful note from the battle-weary soldiers before saluting the new year.

The Charlie Company (Kamagong) of 33rd IB Philippine Army rallied for a year-end Makabayan Peace Caravan as the core banner of their Civil Military Operations in the municipalities of GSK Pendatun and Paglat, Maguindanao.

The weeklong activities started from December  7 – 14, 2010 focused on the distribution of school supplies; community dialogues; skill and capability building, medical-dental-circumcision and veterinary outreach.

These activities were intended to assist the barangays affected by conflict, natural calamity and those influenced by the MILF movement with the view of helping them restore their normal living and strengthen peace in the area.

SSG Russell Martin in action.

ACIM Asia was specifically invited to serve on December 13 in Panosolin, Maguindanao and on December 14 in Midconding, Maguindanao for Medical, Dental, and Circumcision services as a way of culminating the peace mission. About 800 medical patients were given free consultation and medications, about 250 patients availed of cost free dental extraction, and 130 patients undergo circumcision, for the said 2 days medical missions.

Some readers may react at seeing military uniforms and armory in our mission pictures, but this is the reality.  We are serving in constant threat of unfriendly fire in places where the peace situation is volatile and ready to evaporate anytime.  We are praying and hoping to encourage warriors to give up animosities and settle for peace.  And one way to reach out to them is to reach out to the vulnerable non-combatant members of their families, who inadvertently suffer from the ravages of war. This outreach demonstrates the concern that we feel for the community, and speaks volumes for Christian charity.

Though the Good Samaritan did not have military operatives as he served the wounded victim of robbery, we cannot risk going into a war zone preaching love of God through charitable acts without protection.  In places where Christ is not known, Christian peace is incomprehensible.  We are not part of the military and we come simply to demonstrate Christian love in villages where hearts are inflamed with the Red Crescent. It is a risk we take with prudence, hence, we come with military protection.

Justice, law and order bring peace.  But it is kindness and friendship that transcends the barriers.  May God bless the Braves of Mindanao.