organised by ACIM-Asia
from 25- 29 July, 2011 in Barangay Mariana, New Manila, Quezon City

Preparation Day: 24 July

The community hall and location of the mission

Dear friends,

Yet again this year, we will try to share with you our work during the Rosa Mystica medical mission in the Philippines. This is the fifth year it is being held.

A great number of volunteers came from far horizons: from Ireland to Canada, from Singapore to France, from Switzerland to Malaysia, and at the same time from the United States, South Korea and Belgium. None hesitated to fly over oceans and seas in order to give their generosity and time to the disadvantaged. We must also not forget the benevolent Filipinos, without whom the mission could not have taken place. They have worked for a number of months to ensure the smooth operation of this week-long mission.

This year, we are based in Manila not far from the Church of Our Lady of Victories, a priory of the Society of St Pius X. Fr. Onoda, who welcomes us warmly, understands very well that in this combat for the Faith, Tradition must not hesitate to follow Providence. The latter exhorts us not to entrench ourselves in our sacristies alone (as certain persons would prefer), but instead to give testimony of the divine mercy.

Loading the boxes of medicine unto the army trucks
Transferring the medicine into the pharmacy
Organising the medicine
24 July, Sunday

1300h: Arrival at Barangay Mariana (the location of the mission) of the first convoy of volunteers and medicine. A human chain organises itself rapidly in order to unpack the medicine, while singing at the same time in order to maintain the tempo!

1400h: The first official reunion is presided over by Fr. Daniel Couture in the presence of local personalities and community leaders, so as to give each volunteer his tag and to insist on the spiritual dimension of the mission. Certainly, we all have a temporal mission to fulfil, but as Dr. Dickes mentioned, we heal the body with a charity that will also help to elevate the soul spiritually.  

Orientation and briefing before the Mission

1800h: The place is almost fully prepared to welcome the patients at 0800 the next day. As for the volunteers, thanks to the tireless enthusiasm of their dear “Father Sewing” (Fr. Couture), prayer and singing encourage them for the exhausting week which awaits, the first events of which you will discover upon reading tomorrow evening.
To conclude, here is a quote from the Volunteers’ Prayer:
“O my God, teach us to receive the sick in Thy Name. Without Thee, I am not able to lead this work to a good end. I ask of Thee this grace for the good of Thy sick and their loved ones.”
We thank you in advance for accompanying us with your prayers throughout this entire week.

Till tomorrow!
Fr. Couture and Dr. Dickes, directors of the Mission

DAY 1: 25 July

(Welcome in Tagalog)

Will you help me please?

At 6.45am the army vehicle must come to pick the volunteers up, but to our surprise it presents itself 25 minutes early, something never seen before in the Philippines! It is the first miracle of the mission. After a small luxurious breakfast (served with knives and eaten with butter!), the serious tasks begin. All the volunteers were at the Barangay Mariana by 8.00am. Some patients were already waiting for us at the entrance: there was turmoil at the gymnasium, it being also the time to complete the last installations. After the experience of four years, the logistics flow more smoothly. The welcome and registration of the patients are handled by the Bethanians; the taking of the body’s vital signs by the nurses and the direction of the patients towards the respective services (dentist, doctor, paediatrician and even barber!). To finish, each patient passes through the pharmacy to obtain the necessary medicine. Two patients were even taken to the hospital for the treatment of more serious conditions.

One of the joys of this mission is to be able to do good to the military.
Here they kneel to receive the scapular from Fr. Couture.

Fr. Suelo and Sister take care of the spiritual needs
Typhoon Juaning was also part of the Filipino welcome
Not surprising some did not dare leave their homes to come to the mission
Unlike the previous two years, we are right in the middle of the city centre in a well-off area of Manila. We consequently have to transport patients from more disadvantaged quarters with the help of the army trucks. For this first day, there were nevertheless 320 patients from the poorer areas. At the mission’s location many go to consult the paediatrician but curiously the dentists were less frequently solicited; perhaps because the brushing of teeth has become more of an occurrence in the habits of city dwellers? Having said so, the nurses have nevertheless observed that there were many children with teeth the colour of carbon. We generously distributed vitamins, for all suffer from malnutrition. A woman even became delighted at being hypoglycaemic because this earned her a cake which she exhibited with a smile in front of all of her friends. We were somewhat embarrassed to eat in front of them, by reason of the hunger which gnaws inside of them more than it does in us.

Our faithful Dra Lagare, from General Santos is with us for the fifth year.
Is Sister Maria Rosario helping or giving advice to Dra Nisperos, our untiring dentist?
We thank our assiduous readers for reading about the mission. You can certainly continue to pray as the injections, the pulled-out teeth and the healing of infected wounds have a great need of a spiritual work for which we have left our own countries.

Paalam po ! (Farewell in Tagalog)

DAY 2: 26 July

The Mother of Mercy welcomes them all with her Divine Child

Church and State working in harmony!
Yesterday, at 2330, a small earthquake occurred North of Manila. Some volunteers continued to sleep on, while others presumed that their friends in the same room were simply snoring.

From morning, we were welcomed by a torrential rain; it was due simply to a typhoon which was raging to the north of Luzon Island, where we are. The roads were flooded and the government blocked public transport and schools. For this reason, some patients were unable to access the mission. One of our reporters visited and was deeply moved by a shanty-town that was particularly affected by the floods; certain inhabitants, with smiles on their lips, explained that they had to remain at home to keep an eye on the cardboard walls of their houses; others had the courage to come without fear of the water which came up to their knees.

I was waiting for this for so long...
Medical treatment continued as usual despite the climate. The military was always to their duty; they directed the logistics, kept order in the mission, carried the heavy packages of medicine and distributed biscuits; when time was scarce they were caught requesting vitamins for their own children. They even demanded the imposition of the scapular. It was touching to see these soldiers in military fatigues kneeling down humbly before the priest who blessed them.

Our head nurse, Miss Yolly Gamutan (right) who is the backbone of this whole mission seeking some information from Carmen (center), our Swiss volunteer. Korean Eun-Jee on the left is never idle.
 We had certain medical cases that were particularly of note:
--A poor woman went to Dr. Dick├Ęs with swollen legs. On examination it is discovered she had significant oedema that was tied up to malnutrition. She also explained that she had taken strong doses of a diuretic for the treatment of a heart problem.

-- A person presented herself with a radiographic negative dating to a year ago together with having a case of bloody sputum from that time on. The doctor discovered to his surprise the name of a Koch bacillus that was inscribed on the negative. For lack of money and her requiring a treatment that had to be paid for, she was unable to obtain treatment for her tuberculosis from us although she was referred to the TB hospital

--A young man had some difficulties breathing. Tuberculosis was suspected again and the complementary treatment ordered. Under diverse pretexts the patient tries to leave on a number of occasions. His wife joins him, and on crying, finishes by confessing to the doctor that they do not have enough money to pay for the hospital fees. When she learns that the mission will bear all of the costs, she cries once more, this time with emotion. The handkerchiefs were not sufficient when we assured her of our prayers for her family!
Today’s events reinforced the ties between the volunteers who came from all four corners of the globe. The day was concluded with Mass and the rosary, and each one profited from a saving repose later on.

The military dentists treat around 70 patients per day.

In the forefront, the vital signs taken; center left, the military barbers;
in the center far away, the dentists; center right, the pediatricians. 
The general practitioners are in another building

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