Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on December 2, 2013

Labels: The Philippines , Disaster-Relief

Members of the HOPE family,

“Upon arrival in Santa Fe on Bantayan Island, the first thing that registers is that the amount of destruction is immense and wide spread. The eye of the storm passed directly over the island. The entire island is without power, lines are still strewn across the roads, poles are snapped in half and debris scattered everywhere. Clean up is in progress, but the sheer magnitude of the cleanup effort is so large it will take months.”

Children in the Municipality of Tapaz, Philippines

On Thanksgiving Day and over the weekend, dedicated teams from Project HOPE reported on their work at two of the hardest hit locations in the Philippines. These are areas where little medical help has yet to arrive. Far from family and loved ones, and working in difficult conditions, our teams were very focused. Over those few days, they accomplished so much. They assessed, negotiated, traveled, arranged, deployed and most important….they delivered. Sixty cases of life-saving antibiotics were brought to the Hospital on Bantayan, and more are on the way.

“In Santa Fe, the team met with health providers at the District Health Post, a primary health unit that handles more than 40 patients a day. They, like the hospital, are running on generator power, shutting down in the evenings and keeping refrigerators closed. Both the hospital and the health post need back-up generators for the vaccines…..” 

From the HOPE shipment that just arrived in Manila, two generators are being delivered. As in similar situations in the past, our teams will bring HOPE in the form of medical care, equipment, supplies, vaccines -- and compassionate health education and training.

“Panay Island has had little contact with the international community. Because it is more remote than other hard hit areas, it remains underserved by the international relief organizations responding to the damage. The Provincial Health Department requested that Project HOPE tackle the needs of Tapaz as soon as possible. There are 21 upland barangays that have received little to no aid from the government or international organizations, due to the inaccessibility of their location. Three of the five hospitals on the Island were badly affected; the one, in Tapaz, now in major need ….” 

Sought out for their experience, and HOPE's ability to deliver on promises made, a second team of experienced Project HOPE staff and volunteers is working closely with the Mayor’s office, the municipal Health Center, and the Philippine Army to coordinate a three week health outreach effort to reach these 21 barangays. They will deliver a wealth of experience and lifesaving care, as well as offering essential medical education and training. These volunteers, nurses, primary care physicians, midwives, a dentist, a surgeon and psycho/social health professionals, left families this weekend to travel to where they are so urgently needed. All are immensely skilled -- and eager to get to work.

“Project HOPE volunteers drove out to the remote village of Roxas Ocho. The last time any international visitors saw this site was in 2008. The school and health point are all unstable and dangerous to enter. The kitchen of the Health Point was teetering into the valley below. Many homes had not only their roofs blown off, but their floors slid out from under them. The main gathering point is a concrete slab basketball court/stage, but its roof has collapsed in a twisted heap.”

Meanwhile, here in Virginia, HOPE staff worked ceaselessly to coordinate the next shipments of medicines, vaccines, equipment and supplies—all rapidly being assembled in our Distribution Center. We are responding to the specific requests of the Philippines Department of Health -- and the needs that our teams on the ground have identified. More than a dozen health-related corporations are providing product, while private donations are covering the cost of shipping, transport and distribution. We can all be thankful for the extraordinary generosity that keeps this lifesaving pipeline open.

On Thanksgiving Day and over the weekend, I was thankful for each and every volunteer who put his or her interests, comfort, and needs aside to provide essential, lifesaving care to others….for every donor who has emailed, written, called or personally delivered a contribution to HOPE….for our corporate partners who have made every effort, at year-end, to donate medicines, supplies and equipment for us to distribute….and for our staff, who each day honor our mission with their dedication and hard work. 

Your support for HOPE sustains us, and your generosity propels us forward. In the spirit of the holiday season, and with gratitude for all we have here at home, I know that you join me in appreciating all our HOPIES. If you have not already done so, please consider supporting our efforts to deliver HOPE to those most in need in the Philippines.



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