Team 2 expands reach of medical aid across Estancia in Iloillo, Philippines
CHC’s second disaster medical relief team to Iloilo in the Philippines returned on Tuesday morning, Nov. 26. The group of 22 included seven doctors, three nurses and three medical students, while the rest of the team comprised volunteers from various backgrounds. The team also brought along 150kg of donation in clothing and some medical supplies for victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
As the municipal town of Estancia was badly hit by the typhoon, the team went to districts, villages and even islands around the town. The main focus was to go to places where aid had yet to arrive. In most of these places, the City Harvest Church-led team was the first medical relief team to reach there to serve the people.
The main medical concerns were injuries, illnesses related to poor living conditions, as well as chronic medical conditions. The typhoon had disrupted regular medical service, impacting those with chronic illnesses. To meet all these needs, Team 2 set up makeshift mobile clinics in various parts of Estancia.
Kelvin Tan, 28, a full-time zone supervisor in CHC, was the team leader for Team 2. He shared, “One major concern for this trip was not knowing what was available on the ground as medical supplies were limited. The CHC team had to approach other NGOs like AmeriCares and GlobalMedic to partner with them and share their medical supplies.”
Drawing from the experience of Team 1, Team 2 was able to allocate resources more efficiently. From the first day, they split up into smaller teams in order to cover more areas. On Day 1, Nov. 22, the teams went to Buena Vista, Lumbia and Bayas Island, treating a total of 651 patients. On Day 2, they treated 644 patients in Go Go and San Roque. Day 3 saw the teams stationed at Jolog and the Municipal Town Hall, seeing 249 patients. On Day 4, the teams proceeded to Boloquenia and Calapdan, treating 316 patients. A total of 1,860 patients were treated over a period of four days.
Tan remembers one particularly moving incident: “On Day 3 when we visited the Municipal Town Hall, an old lady in her 60s came to tell us her story. When the typhoon hit, her house, which was by the coast, was totally destroyed and she was swept into the open sea. She had to tread water and swim back to the shore in the midst of the typhoon, at her age! She finally made it to the shore and hung on to a tree for two whole hours. She came to us and asked what the church could do for her. Immediately, we contacted one of the local churches in Estancia and tried to arrange something. But more importantly, we asked her whether she would like to receive Jesus, and she said yes! So beyond the medical aid, we were also ministering the presence of God.”
Dr. Lim Koon Jin, 52, a general practitioner and the head of Crisis Relief Singapore was part of the team. Though he has been on many medical mission trips prior to this, Dr. Lim said, “No matter how short the trip, if we put our heart into the work, it’s worth the while. In times like this, no effort, whatever form it comes in, is too trivial or too small. As Christians, we should prepare ourselves to be like the Good Samaritan and extend our hand to help, not just to provide first aid, but to bring each one of the victims to safety. That’s our responsibility of being salt and light.”
Dr. Lim also highlighted the importance of the CHC Healthcare Fellowship. Set up this year, the Healthcare Fellowship is a gathering of healthcare professionals from various sectors. Dr. Lim said, “The CHC Healthcare Fellowship is completely involved in this [disaster relief] effort. The core group of volunteers, as well as the support base, came from this fellowship and our contacts. We [the Healthcare Fellowship] had planned medical trips to Jakarta, Cambodia and other places in preparation for a disaster like this, so we could be better prepared to respond in time.”
Tan was encouraged by the willingness and dedication of the team. “The team morale and unity was very good. Though we only met each other for the first time on the first day, we immediately clicked as it was our common vision to be a blessing to the people of Philippines. Being on the ground really opened my heart and eyes as it was my first disaster relief trip. The needs of the people are many, but they are still so strong and positive in going about their daily lives. More than being a blessing to them, all the team members said they were the ones being blessed instead!”
Volunteer Jeannette Soh, 25, a case officer with City Harvest Community Services Association, shared similar sentiments. “Going to Estancia for disaster relief reminded me of how blessed we are in Singapore. Sometimes, after prescribing medicine, the doctors would prescribe prayer. We said simple prayers for them as we laid hands on them. We were especially touched when we visited two churches: the Full Gospel Missions Church and Estancia Pentecostal Church. The former had its roof blown off by the typhoon, and the latter actually blessed the team by cooking us a lunch spread despite not having enough for themselves. The church members also raised a love offering for the team to purchase more medical supplies for those in need. At the churches, the team members shared testimonies to encourage and strengthen our fellow Christians, some of whom had lost loved ones in the typhoon.”
Due to an oil spill caused by the typhoon, fishing, the main livelihood of the people, in the area, is under threat. There is a lack of food and clean water, and the people need more help especially in terms of rebuilding homes and disease control, which may be exacerbated by lack of clean water and sanitation.
Team 3 departed for Iloilo on Nov 26. City Harvest Church is planning to send five teams over.
If you would like to be part of the Healthcare Fellowship, please contact Isaiah Kuan at firstname.lastname@example.org