RMHM 2012 PAGE 1


organized by ACIM-Asia
from 27 February to 02 March 2012 in New Manila, Quezon City

Preparation Day: 26 February

Today was a great day : the volunteers have finally arrived in Manila !! The ‘mission fever’ is in the air.

The more than 50 volunteers - from France, America, Quebec, Switzerland, Belgium, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines – are united for the love of God and of “these least of the little ones” to work for the 6th edition of Rosa Mystica Health Mission which will run from Monday 27 February to 2 March of this year.

For the first time, the mission is taking place in February during the dry season and we are greeted by beautiful weather. The previous five missions took place in July, during the monsoon season (June-December).

Manila from the air
Father Onoda gave us his usual warm welcome at the priory in Manila. Following the previous missions, the local authorities are now more and more favourable and this allows the SSPX to take a more important role in the Philippines, particularly in the pro-life battle which is still raging.

Fr Onoda, with his well-known smile
In the afternoon, after the presentation of everyone, the description of everyone’s role and the objectives of the mission, the preparation begins with great vigour, the pharmacy being the nervous centre of the mission and thus needing very delicate organisation .

At the end of the day, with the gym organised and the pharmacy fairly in order, the volunteers can retire excited for the next day’s challenge, everything being as ready as possible to welcome the 3000 patients that are expected for the next 5 days.

A very busy Sheryl, one of the main Filipina organisers of the mission

DAY 1: 27 February


Mission Poster
The start was a little slow this morning as everyone needed to ‘learn the ropes’ of their assignments, and half of the volunteers were new to the mission. Among the others however, some are at their 2nd, 3rd, and even 6th Mission! “The charity of Christ presseth us!” (St Paul)

Soon however, the Angels helping and practical sense intervening, the mission got in it normal busy mode with everyone working like ants serving the hundreds of mostly mothers and children queuing at the entrance of the basketball course turned into temporary hospital!

This year, we have an operating theatre, two pharmacies (paediatric and adult) and facilities to perform ECGs and x-rays, and a laboratory for urine and blood tests.

Blandine, a French nurse, adopts a little Filipino

The day was marked by three surgical interventions (the removal of two cysts and the injection for a carpian canal, a disease of the wrist).

Doctor Jean-Pierre Dickès, assisted by Delphine, carries out a micro surgery

As in previous years, the much appreciated Filipino army have come to our aid, providing us with doctors, dentist, materials, transport and a helping hand… and a squad of barbers handling the waiting children manu militari!

Fr. Castel at the barber’s
The Filipino army in action
 On the spiritual side, more than 300 rosary beads, and as many scapulars and holy pictures were distributed.

Mass at the Manila Priory

DAY 2: 28 February

"The Spirit of the Mission"

Caroline, who supervises the paediatric pharmacy
The spirit of the Rosa Mystica health mission is not only a humanitarian one as are a lot of medical organisations today but also a profoundly Catholic one . The volunteers take part in this week out of charity and are reminded by our priests in their sermons to act as good Samaritans and to serve the Filipino people with humility and simplicity. As well as providing medical and physical care, the mission also gives food for the soul by teaching the truths of the Catholic faith to the patients and spreading devotion to the holy rosary and the brown scapular. Finally, the daily routine of the mission helps the volunteers to keep these intentions in mind with the mass and the rosary having an important place.

Eagerly awating their turn, the poor Filipinos are very grateful for this great oportunity to see doctors!

Fr. Couture getting a blood test
The Bethaniens

The Bethaniens – young Asian ladies aspiring to the religious life, mostly Filipinas – run by the Oblates of the SSPX, play an important role every day in the mission. The are based in Iloilo, an island next to the island of Luzon where Manila is located. They were founded in 1997 by Fr. Couture, the district superior of Asia, with the aim of guiding young girls towards the religious congregations which suit then best. During the mission, their role consists in teaching children the catechism while they wait they waited to be seen by the medical team and distributing rosary beads. The Filipino children who can amuse and content themselves with so little are delighted by the beautiful pictures in the catechisms and the holy pictures they are given.

Xavier-Nicolas a French fireman helping with an ECG

Irish nurse
The Legion of Mary
The Legion of Mary in Manila also lend their support to the mission in various ways – some helping with catechism, others working as general volunteers. They number about 20 in Manila and, as well as teaching catechism and spreading devotion to the rosary, they hold weekly meetings and pay visits to various homes. Today, a number of members of the Legion accompanied Fr. Castel on a trip to bless some houses in the neighbouring 'Barangay.' The excursion was profitable ; since, as well as houses, Fr. Castel blessed cars, a butcher's shop and even a dog's kennel ! 

Dr. Dichard from Marseilles is at his 6th mission
Back at the mission centre in Barangay Mariana, the medical and physical care continue today because a sick and hungry human body needs to be cured and fed before it can listen to the word of God.

One surgical intervention today saved the leg of a poor man from the building site across the street, wounded by a large falling brick, leaving a deep and painful wound. Thanks to Dr. Marie Huitié, the patient left the mission with a bandaged leg but on his two feet !

The account of tomorrow's adventures to follow...

DAY 3: 29 February

"Ants at Work!"

Today a radiant sun rises to great us as we head to the mission for the third day and a crowd of patients wait for registration at reception. The journey of a patient from reception through to pharmacy is a long one within the big gym.

An overview of the Mission

The registration process begins with the Bethanians obtaining basic information from each patient: name, address, date of birth... The ACIM Asia team is well organised with different colours of forms depending on whom the patient needs to see: green for a doctor or ophthalmologist, pink for a paediatrician and blue for a dentist!

Next, the patients proceed to the desk where the Filipino nurses take down a medical history and the patients’ current symptoms in order to assist the doctor in making a more rapid diagnosis.

Finally, the patients queue to have their height and weight measured before having their vital signs taken by the overseas nursing volunteers: blood pressure, pulse, temperature, respiratory rate and blood glucose level.

The French nurses take the vital signs
Medical Consultations

Once the entire patient’s information has been recorded, our “patient flow” team directed by Fr. Couture then guides the people towards the various health practitioners according to the colour of their sheet.
  • Doctors: This year we have four volunteer doctors: Dr. Dickès, the president of ACIM, Dr.Dichart and Dr. Hutié from France and Dr. Phellan from America. These are assisted by two Filipino army doctors and this maintains a steady flow of patients. Today we also have an ophthalmologist to attend to the optical needs of the patiently waiting people.
  • Paediatric doctors: Dr. Viray, from the Philippines and president of ACIM Asia, and Dr. Kim from South Korea see a huge crowd of children and babies of all ages today. Each of the medical practitioners is assisted by an interpreter to help them negotiate between English, French and Tagalog, the local language.
  • Dentists: the army lend several of their dentists for the week and these spend a lot of their time pulling teeth that are rotten.
Depending on the medical diagnosis, the patient can be then sent to have an X-ray, an ultrasound scan or an ECG. This year, we also have a laboratory scientist, Melanie Leblanc from America, who carries out various simple tests such as urinalyses and takes blood to be sent to a local laboratory for testing. Any first aid or nursing care such as wound dressings or injections are attended to by Delphine, a French nurse.

The inventory of the pharmacy is constantly updated

The final stop on the patient’s route is pharmacy. We have the main pharmacy for adults in the air-conditioned community hall of Mariana which is efficiently run by Brigitte, a French pharmacist, assisted by Honeybee, a Filipino pharmacist who orders the medication. This morning, Honeybee got up at 3.30am to collect boxes of medication from various pharmaceutical companies around Manila! Christine, an accountant from America, keeps tracks of all the medication ordered and dispensed.

The paediatric pharmacy is run by Caroline, several volunteers and the Filipino army in the main gym.

A lot of preparation for the two pharmacies was undertaken by a French volunteer, Marguerite-Marie during the two months that preceded the mission. Out of 70 laboratories that she contacted, only 10 donated medical supplies. 

The actual running of the pharmacies is complex with medication being double-checked by pharmacists and nurses, recorded and explained to the patients by Filipino nurses. The most frequently dispensed medicines are multi-vitamins, supplements and antibiotics and only the exact, required amount of medication is distributed as many of the people are so poor that they would prefer to sell their medication rather than treat their illness. In spite of the long time that patients spend waiting throughout their journey, the Filipinos remain cheerful and grateful for the little we do for them.

Our head pharmacist, Brigitte, who came back for a second Mission

Honeybee, our Filipina pharmacist, always busy as a bee
The mission is such a success that the mayor of Mariana has asked Fr. Couture if he can send all his employees to the mission because the little money that they earn is spent on food and bare necessities and not on their health.

Melanie Leblanc our American laboratory technician
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