City Harvest Church sends out its first disaster medical relief team to Iloilo.
In early November, Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines causing massive destruction across many regions. Relief works were first carried out in the eastern coastal city of Tacloban, one of the first areas to be hit.
When City Harvest Church received a call from two its former School of Theology students from Iloilo, telling them of the destruction of their home church and of the devastation that hit their hometown, the church decided to lend a helping hand.
On Nov. 18, Pastor Kenneth Sim led a team to Iloilo, bringing some clothing and also money to purchase medical supplies. With a plan to set up temporary medical clinics to aid those who had been injured, the team got to work as soon as they reached the town of Estancia, where they set up base.
Team 1, which returned on Thursday (Nov. 21) was made up of two doctors, two nurses, one relief worker and eight volunteers, and they were supported by volunteers from the USA and doctors from the Philippines.
On Day 1, the team went to Estancia Town Hall to assess the sort of work to be done and from Day 2 onwards, they split up into two teams—with one doctor and one nurse in each team, supported by volunteers—to be more efficient. In just four days, Team 1 conducted six clinic sessions in created medical clinics and helped a total of 1,295 persons over six sessions in Estancia Town Hall, Bayas Island (East and West), Paon Village and Tanza Village.
Two doctors, Dr Puneet Seth and Dr Priscilla Ang were on the first team that was sent out. Though both of them were not from City Harvest Church, they instantly connected with the team members and worked tirelessly to achieve the team’s goal of maximizing the help they could bring to the typhoon victims.
“How Dr. Seth came on board on the missions team was a work of God,” said Darryl Loh, executive chairman of CHCSA who was one of the volunteers on the trip. “He tried to get in touch with Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, but their teams had already been formed. Then, through Facebook, one of his friends, who goes to City Harvest Church, posted [the call for volunteers] on her Facebook, and at the very same time, Dr Lim Koon Jin of Crisis Relief had also put up an appeal. [Dr Seth] responded to both, only to find out it was the same mission.”
Dr. Seth, 41, an emergency physician, shared that he was grateful for the platform to help in the Philippines. “We were the first team in Iloilo, so we had the added responsibility of gauging the amount of work that had to be done,” he told City News.
One of the things that left a deep impression in Dr. Seth was how inaccessible medical aid was to the people. They had only one doctor for 25 barangay (areas). “One lady had her entire house destroyed and she lost her medication. When I saw her, her blood pressure was 290/140. She was a walking timebomb,” he said. Thankfully, the team had help on hand for her.
The experience in Ilolio has left an indelible mark on him. “One thing that stood out for me was their resilience in spite of the loss of their livelihood,” he said, explaining that, Iloilo being a fishing region, the fishermen had lost all their boats and with them, the ability to continue their trade. However, he was touched by the resilience of the locals.
A medical social worker on the same trip, George Yeo, said, “This being the first trip, the journey was filled with excitement and not being sure of what to expect when we reached. But everything turned out to be well and we managed to help the best that we could.”
Apart from medical aid provided by the team, the volunteers worked hard to reach out to the locals with comfort and encouragement.
Team 2 arrived in Iloilo on Nov 21, while Team 3 will be departing on Nov 26. City Harvest Church is planning to send five teams over. Currently, Teams 4 and 5 are still looking for doctors to join their mission.
If you are interested to get involved in the disaster relief trips to the Philippines, please contact Adalia Tan of CityCare at firstname.lastname@example.org