Philippines Medical Mission
2016 was the 20th year running that our Club has conducted this international project in the Philippines. We partner with the Cataract Foundation of the Philippines, the Visayas Hearing Centre and the local Rotary Clubs. Every two to three years, we move to a different province to replicate our successful model.
It is hard to describe the joy it brings when one of your ‘patients’ regains their sight, or even more significantly, when they get to see for the first time in their lives. Here we learn the true meaning of our motto, ‘Service above Self’ !
Children need to be able to hear in order to be able to learn. We work with local primary schools to screen the ears of thousands of students. It’s a bit of a challenge to learn how to use an otoscope on a child’s ear, but it doesn’t take long to learn to look for that pearly-white ear drum. We discover infections, foreign objects like insects, and impacted wax. The school nurse is trained to follow up with the medications to fix each issue so that after our visit, good hearing is sustained for the children of that school.
Professional Development for Aussie Students
It’s kind of a project within a project, when each year our Rotary club sponsors four of the best final year students from the La Trobe University Orthoptics course. These outstanding young professionals have become an important part of our mission team to the Philippines. Their professional development experience there is incredible. They diagnose issues they may never see in Australia. The volunteer surgeons are wonderful mentors:
Clean Drinking Water
As our team visits different areas of the Philippines, we get to learn of other local needs. In the Province of Masbate there were health problems in the rural areas, caused by drinking water from shallow, polluted wells. In partnership with Plan International and the local Rotary Club of Masbate, we funded the construction of 150 water filters over two years. Each of these were placed next to the water wells that were shared by up to five different families. People soon discovered that if they filtered the water from the well before drinking it, the dysentery would stop and their children became more healthy. After two years, the local government took over funding this project as it is a very economical way to reduce their health budget.
Feeding Program for Children
School nurses told us that the worst health problem for the children in their schools after infections was malnutrition. A grade five student is often the height of a year one, back home in Australia. After discussions with the local Rotary Club about ways to solve this issue, the local rescue team, RodeoNet, came up with a very popular feeding program with which our team was able to assist in 2015:
The Philippines is quite regularly devastated by powerful typhoons. Through the local Rotary Clubs we have been able to assist with funding the recovery efforts for both typhoons Yolanda in 2013 and Nona in December 2015.
Link to: 2014 Medical Mission Report
This video provides more details regarding this most effective international project: