(The 11th Tribal Medical Mission)
By Joy Risonar
“Dako gyud kaayo akong pasalamat sa JECPP ba kay dili lang check-up ilang ginahimo, gahatag pud sila ug tambal ug vitamins (I thank JECPP very much because they do not only do [medical] check-up, but they also give medicines and vitamins.),” said Nene, a 48-year- old mother of seven children. She brought to the medical mission her one-month-old baby who was suffering from LBM and a seven-year-old boy who was having fever and cough.
Nene was only one of the four hundred fifty-one (451) residents of Marilog District who were served during the 11th Tribal Medical Mission conducted by Jireh-Evangel Church Planting Philippines, Inc. (JECPP) at West Marahan Elementary School, Marahan, Marilog District last May 9, 2014. Three hundred forty-seven (347) of these availed of the free medical consultation, seventy (70) for dental services, and thirty-four (34) underwent the circumcision ‘tuli’ operation. All of the patients were given medicines, and the children and babies were given vitamins.
A quick interview with them made me realize that they await the annual medical mission of JECPP, and that they had nothing to say but a thank you to JECPP and anticipation for the future medical missions.
My joining this medical mission for the first time made me see how far JECPP has achieved bringing to the people of this far-flung area access to basic medical services and medicines and vitamins, yet the journey still has a long way to go. I now better understand the need for us to have passion for missions. As a matter of fact, the medical mission team had to cut-off the dental services and the tuli operation because of time constraints and lack of some medical supplies.
Patients already lined up for three registration stations even before the set up was finalized. They had been given lugaw or rice porridge that was prepared by volunteers from EFC Marahan whose station had three big pots cooking lugaw at the same time. They lost count of the bowls of lugaw that have been served because many of the local residents got several refills. “Ang uban kay mao na ni ang gipamahaw mao nga kadaghan nangayo ug lugaw, ” said one cook. At the end of the day, a whole sack of rice was cooked into lugaw.
The first station was the medical check-up registration manned by Cecille Gacasan and Christopher Gelicame of EFC Davao. They took the patient’s body temperature, weight, and blood pressure. After the patients had their preliminary interview, they were led to the medical doctors namely Dr. Rizaldo R. Gonzales, a Physician and an Obstetrician and Gynecologist, and Dr. Orfa Abelende-Ingay, a Physician in Occupational Medicine. According to these physicians, most of the patients had upper respiratory problems like cough and colds, skin diseases, and body pains. Apart from the medicines they prescribed, they also recommended vitamins and deworming especially to children.
Catherine, a 23-year-old pregnant woman, who has not had pre-natal checkups and therefore has not counted the months of her current pregnancy, came complaining about stomach pains. Dr. Gonzales said they were actually contractions. Dr. Gonzales advised her to go see the resident German doctor in the place immediately since the classroom-turned-medical-clinic was not equipped to accommodate patients of her case. After a while, I noticed her at the lugaw station feeding her two children, and so I went to talk to her again. She said she was already feeling well and the contractions had already stopped, and that she intends to give birth at home with the midwife in the community.
The oldest who came for medical check-up was the eighty-one-year old Lolo Ambrosio who complained of suffering from cough and constant dizziness. According to him, “wala mi panggasto aron mopacheck up ug mopalit ug tambal. (We don’t have money to spend for check-up and medicines). The youngest patient was less than a month old baby Ashley who had skin allergies.
A 19-year-old Carlo was noticed limping and so was given immediate attention. His case was urgent. He had an incised wound on his left knee he accidentally caused himself the day before while he was clearing a cornfield. Dr. Gonzales had to stitch the 3-cm long wound and dress it. He also advised Carlo to get anti-tetanus shots at the district’s health center. “Ako ra gyud ning gihiktan aron moundang ang agas sa dugo” (I just tied [a cloth] around this [knee] to stop the bleeding), Carlo shared while enduring the pain.
The second station was the dental registration which was facilitated by Lalaine Madanlo and Adrian James Pangilinan of EFC Davao. Only seventy were given Dental Services led to the classroom-turned-dental-clinic.
Ten dentists composed the dental team, namely Dr. Hafid Millan, Dr. Louise Marie Alhambra, Dr. Reginald Louie Tolentino, Dr. Viezel Monterde, Dr. Jasmin Jade Gramaje, Dr. Najed Macarimbang, Dr. Ilee Ampong, Dr. Gino Arvin Santos, Dr. Rosana Ang, and Dr. Jane Rose Yee (EFC-Davao).
The third station was the circumcision ‘tuli’ registration which was attended by Janice Sy of EFC Davao and Ena Wee of EFC Singapore (who later on also helped in the medical checkup station). They also took the patient’s body temperature, weight, and blood pressure. Almost a hundred boys whose age ranged from 6 to 10 years old registered, but only thirty-four were eventually operated on due to time constraints. The classroom-turned-operating-room had seven registered nurses working on six patients at the same time. Only a few boys decided to cry in the middle of the operation. The free lollipop was more than enough of a reward to make the rest feel brave. One mother whose son was not accommodated for the tuli said, “Hulat napud mi sunod tuig” (We’ll wait again [for this mission] next year).
The registered nurses who composed the tuli team are the following: Vicenta Biñan, Clara Maris Hofer, Melissa Zosa, Ian Te Eng Fo, Jessa Empis, and Rachelle Ann Tilacas.
All of the patients proceeded to the pharmacy attended by Ptr. Christine Wee, Ptr. Judith Kintanar, Ptr. Jordan Kintanar, Aldin Gacasan, Genji Jimenez, PJ Pascua and Boyet Bitong of EFC Davao and Catalina Gonzales, a volunteer nurse and midwife. They were given noodles, sardines, biscuits, and drinking water. The kids, especially those who were having tantrums, were also given toys (cute airplanes and beautiful hairclips hand-made by Sis. Sherry Lim of EFC Singapore) and candies. The dosage was labeled on the medicine boxes in the Bisaya language and was also carefully explained to the patients in the same local language.
The overall project manager Ptr. Peter Wee, together with Ptr. Jordan Kintanar, Michael Barrera of EFC Davao and Ptr. Patricio Margate of EFC Marahan set up the venue and maintained order all throughout the conduct of the mission. We also had 4 Policemen from the Police Station 12 of Marilog District who assisted us to uphold peace and security within the vicinity.
Towards the end of the medical mission, a weak, quick earthquake was felt. Nobody panicked. The medical mission team continued their task. The patients in line for the check-up remained still. Then, a heavy rain poured. The dry soil was quenched.
Many residents watched the team pack up and leave. Those who availed of the medical mission were not verbally expressive, but the team saw in their faces peace, happiness, and gratification for what they have experienced that day.
May those who give to the work of the Lord not panic when funds get low. May their own thirst get quenched too in cheerful giving. May they continue to give so that faces like those in Marahan on May 9, 2014 could continue to experience God’s abundance until the next medical missions to come. All praises to our Awesome God for this mission (photographs taken by Benedict Chan – EFC Singapore).