RMHM 2014 PAGE 1


from 19 to 25 January to  in Tacloban City, Leyte

A day before the Rosa Mystica Health Mission (Preparation)

Here we come for the Eighth Medical Mission of ACIM-ASIA and the Asian District of the Society of St Pius X ! Tacloban was obviously the best choice for the location this year after the tragic Yolanda Typhoon of November 7-8, 2013. We had heard so much about it that, compelled by our holy faith and divine charity, we had to come and do our part.

Arrival in Tacloban
The last night of the journey was short for a good number of us: arriving in Manila airport from all over the world on Saturday evening, our flights for Tacloban were around 4.30 a.m. which also meant sleeping on chairs or on the airport floor… a good start for a mission of charity. Then, after a flight disturbed by a lot of turbulence, we finally reached our destination and had the chance to meet the local team. The first impression of an outside volunteer was to notice that the Filipinos are a very kind and generous people - always ready to offer help, time, and services to others.

After the Holy Mass celebrated by the district superior of Asia, Father Couture, and sung by the Brothers of St Bernard Novitiate who all came for the Mission (it took them 4 days to do what can be done by plane in 2 ½ hours), we had brunch in a local restaurant where we could talk to each other and get to know the other volunteers. What a surprise to see people from different continents joining together to make this mission a success!

A new feature in this year’s mission is that we have added a “construction team” to the medical team. So much physical damage has been caused by the typhoon - such as the complete destruction of the SSPX chapel and severe damaged, if not completely destroyed houses of our faithful – that the mission had to be more than merely medical.

Orientation meeting
In the afternoon, we have the important orientation meeting with all the volunteers. This year, so far (I say ‘so far’ because we are awaiting more volunteers, from Manila and the other islands, who have not been able to come yet because of the cancellation of many ferries due to rough waters), we are 51 volunteers who have responded to the call for the Rosa Mystica Mission. We introduced ourselves by giving our name, country of origin, profession, and the reason we came to the mission. We have 7 volunteers from Australia, most of them are helping in the construction mission. Like every year, volunteers from France are numerous, 23; and as usual, their French leader, Doctor Dickes, is full of energy. We also count 8 US volunteers, among whom is a very important member of the Rosa Mystica, Doctor Elizabeth Phalen, who has come for the eighth time from far away North Carolina. Others come from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, Switzerland, and Belgium. Of course, we are not very useful without the help of the Filipinos who are doing an enormous and wonderful job, both in the medical area and now necessary translating role.

The SSPX chapel that needs to be restored in Christ
We are from different countries, we speak different languages, and we have different ages and backgrounds; but we have one thing in common. We have the same faith and charity, and the same willingness to help the population of Tacloban, so unfortunately hit by the Yolanda Typhoon on November 8th.

The situation in Tacloban is worse than expected. We did not know what we were going to see, despite the images we saw in the news. The majority of the buildings are destroyed; people are living in the street; and waste covers the roads. Nevertheless, life seems to continue, and people are trying to recover.

The children's pharmacy gets organised
The first boxes of medicines are arriving. The pharmacy is getting organized in the dark as there are no lights in the astrodome (stadium) where the mission takes place. The volunteers are ready, even excited, to begin the mission.

The nights come early in Tacloban, and there is no electricity in the dome

Mission Days

Great day today, since we start our mission. And, to draw God’s blessing, every day will begin with the Holy Mass. Actually, it starts with two Masses, since the building team wants to start early; and thus, Fr Daniels offers them a 6:30am Mass, while Fr. Couture officiates the medical team Mass, with a little sermon on the theme of mercy, at 7am.

After a continental breakfast standing, everyone gets involved to get the stadium ready. The pharmacy requires a lot of attention especially since it is divided in three: adult, children, and dental. Finally, the first patients arrive around 9 am.

The astrodome, site of the Mission
Genevieve is a 20-year-old Australian nurse who has been assigned to triage to take and record the vital signs. She welcomes the patients as they step in on the ground floor of the stadium; she takes their heart beat, their blood pressure, and their weight before sending them off to their respective doctors. She did admit that the great joy of this first day was to receive the hundreds of charming babies, but especially to be able to give them the medical care they desperately need. There was one little one that had two open wounds - one on the arm and one on the leg - which, if left untreated, could eventually have led to amputation.

Robert is our dermatologist, a profession he has practiced for the last 14 years in his native Michigan, USA. His first day was quite tiring, but truly fulfilling. He too has a preference for the numerous children, always smiling in spite of their more than difficult circumstances, and ever so grateful.

Our dermatologist, Dr Robert Casquejo from Michigan
Throughout the day, Fr. Couture gives out rosaries, distributes miraculous Medals, and imposes the scapular to wave after wave of patients. Today, he thinks he must have imposed about 300. A charming moment occurred when a three-year-old little child, piously kneeling among a dozen of adults, slowly said a sincere ‘Thank you’ while receiving his scapular.

The children asking Fr Couture for a blessing

We have received donations of about 5000 rosaries

I finally got my rosary
We have two ophthalmologists for the start of our mission, Elaine and Lee, both from the capital, Manila. They are most pleased for the more than 200 pairs of glasses the French team brought with them (although these will not be enough). Elaine tells us of one of her patients who came for the check-up of her eyes, and with the hope of receiving a new pair of glasses. She is one of those unfortunate thousands who lost their glasses during the fierce typhoon, and life has become so much more difficult since. Elaine concluded this anecdote by considering that we are really so fortunate in our comfortable lives compared to these and that we should be more grateful for all we have, even for a simple pair of glasses!

Dr Lee making a patient happy!

Fr Coenraad Daniels and Mr. Bernard Fachon discussing the building plans

Kites for typhoon victims!

In other parts of the Philippines, rice is harvested to provide food for the victims

Morning Mass with sermon on the mercy of God


May Our Lady of Mount Carmel watch over you, little one

Dr Loan the first Vietnamese on the ACIM Asia team

Mr. Buffet on the watch

The dental team with from left to right Magali from France,
Isabelle from Belgium, Gertrude from Singapore and Jee from Australia

Dr Patrick della Bianca from Switzerland

An essential element of daily life, water

One of the four houses being built. The typhoon waters rose over the blue tarp

Midday crowd of patients

Brother Pascual SSPX at work at the chapel site

So pleased to have been at the mission

Thousands of homes are like this one, half roofed

The Australians had to do carpentry the Filipino way, all by hand

Jacob from Tynong, Australia

Ryan, a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars

Roofing the chapel

Part of the building team - the five Australians (front row two on right and back row three on right) and a few others from Ireland, France, the Philippines and the USA

He could be suffering from a myopathy

A good view of the medical mission- clockwise from the center-the vital signs, the doctors, the dentist, the pharmacy, the altar, the children's pharmacy, the pediatricians

The chapel is already up and painted

A simple way to sterilize the instruments

During the days, in turn, the volunteers can go and make a quick visit of the effects of the typhoon

They are still trying to identify bodies of the victims 150 days after the typhoon

The administrative team of the mission is perched up over the doctors and the crowd and sleeps in tents

Happy nurses, Caroline and Sophie with the twins

Dr Dickes, President of ACIM, giving all he can to help the victims

The children learn how to say the rosary in the evening