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Posted By: Kris Radder on July 31, 2012

Labels: The Philippines , Volunteers

Volunteer Kofi Kyei-Mensah Philippines

As Pacific Partnership 2012 wrapped up in the Philippines, Project HOPE said goodbye to nine volunteers that helped shape the success of the first half of the mission. 

Nearly 6,000 medical patients were seen in the Philippines, while 300 patients received surgeries.  

Many thanks were given to the HOPE volunteers leaving the mission including Patricia Olenick, Susan Opas, Emily Wardell, Dr. Beth Hartung, Zara Risoldi, Alexis Hargbol, Kofi Kyei-Mensah, Megan Weeks and Seth Curtis all who helped play key roles in successful patient care from Pharmacy to in-the-field treatment.  

Volunteer Zara Risoldi Philippines

Risoldi, Hargbol and Kyei-Mensah were leaders on the Pharmacy team and all shared the same sentiments about leaving their department.  

"It feels like we have become family with the entire Pharmacy team. We have grown so much over the past few weeks aboard the Mercy, and the skills we gained will benefit us in our careers," said Hargbol.  

Wardell, Hartung, Olenick and Opas helped lead the charge on the onshore medical clinics, treating patients, and providing them the best health care.  

"This was a very positive experience, coming back to the Philippines after being gone for 44 years," said Olenick. "It was a great opportunity to see how the Philippines has changed. 

Olenick added that she felt that she was able to bring valuable services and built some new relationships in the area.  

"It was great working with the locals, the local doctors were very knowledgeable, which helped us give better care to our patients," said Olenick.  

Olenick went on to say, one of her memorable moments was meeting the Surgeon General of the Philippines. She told him that she used to live in the islands when growing up.  

"I went off to take care of my patient, and a little time had passed and the Surgeon General broke away from his group to hand me a little memento of the Philippines," said Olenick.  

Volunteer Susan Opas Philippines

Opas highly enjoyed her time in the Philippines, and learning and understanding a new culture.  

"I had a great time working with the translators, meeting with the families, and helping out some of the most beautiful children," said Opas. "It was great working with the vast group of military personnel from across the world to working with our non-government organization partners." 

Opas said she is going to miss the people that she was able to work with, and will always keep the memories made from her time in the Philippines.  

Weeks and Curtis, both medical students at the University of Massachusetts helped play critical roles in surveying the medical sites on land and aboard the USNS Mercy.  

"I feel like my time here will expand my knowledge during medical school, that the lessons learned here could never be duplicated in the classroom," said Curtis.  

While some of the HOPE team has completed their portion of Pacific Partnership 2012, continuing Project HOPE volunteers and new volunteers join the mission as the USNS Mercy sails onto Vietnam and Cambodia.

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