Rotation Three of Project HOPE's Philippines volunteers got right to work today on their first outreach clinic. Setup started early at San Antonio Elementary School near Tapaz in central Panay Island, a rural school located on the end of a dirt road between an expanse of green rice paddies and even greener sharp forested hills. By 8 o’clock most of the students had arrived for school, although several of their classrooms had already been transformed into examination rooms and a pharmacy. The principal's office served as an area for intake and assessment, processing the 245 patients who would eventually visit over the following few hours.
The morning started with a flag-raising ceremony and the singing of the national anthem. HOPE's volunteers are guarded by members of the Philippines Army and several of those soldiers marched in and raised the flag while the students sang under the direction of one of their teachers.
Things then got busy quickly despite near steady rain. Many of the students and their parents signed up as the first patients seeking help with ailments and health issues while people from the nearby town came through the gate also looking for help. After processing, patients were separated into pediatrics and adults located in the second and fourth grade classrooms respectively. In the late morning, the second half of Project HOPE's volunteer team arrived after being delayed for several days trying to depart Boston during the recent winter storms. They went directly from the airport to San Antonio Elementary and got straight to work despite jet-lag and fatigue after flying halfway around the globe.
Several of the classrooms were still damaged from Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the Philippines. They had peeled-back roofs and collapsed rafters, while the kindergarten building was missing its roof entirely. On the hillside behind the school, trees lay uprooted or were still standing but with broken limbs and mostly stripped of their leaves.
The first grade classroom's roof leaned heavily to the left. Underneath, the Philippines Army set up a massage therapy clinic for patients. They proudly helped the cause today, knowing how important it is for their army to been seen in a positive light during times of peace and not only as soldiers in times of war.
At around 1:30 pm, the flow of patients eventually faded to a stop. All in all, 131 adults and 114 children saw Project HOPE doctors today and were treated for everything from respiratory illnesses to rashes and back pain. Though it rained for most of the day, the weather didn't seem to deter many from visiting the temporary clinic.
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