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HOPE works in more than 35 countires worldwide. Please enjoy our blog as we document the successes and challenges of our work to provide Health Opportunities for People Everywhere.
Posted By: Jon Brack on January 24, 2014
Thanks to the polar vortex that sunk much of the US to record low temperatures, several members of Project HOPE's Rotation Three were delayed while departing for the far warmer Philippines.When the group of six volunteers from Massachusetts General Hospital(MGH) arrived at Logan International Airport in Boston, most had never met each other because the hospital has so many employees, but they were all stuck in the cold together.
Jump ahead five days to their arrival in Tapaz in central Panay Island. After dropping bags at the house where all 19 current HOPE volunteers are staying, the MGH group went straight to the day's outreach clinic at San Antonio Elementary School and got involved despite having just traveled halfway around the globe. Within a day they were over jet-lag and up to speed on the goals of the three-week mission.
Of the six members of the Boston team, five of them are first-time HOPE volunteers. The Center for Global Health at MGH generously supports their employees with two weeks of paid leave annually to participate in medical humanitarian missions. When the call went out at the hospital for potential volunteers with HOPE in the Philippines, they received over 400 applicants, all willing to use an additional week of vacation time to complete the required three-week deployment. Despite stiff competition, these six made the cut.
One of the new volunteers is Katherine Rushfirth, a Certified Nurse Midwife at MGH for over two years. Katherine has thrived in HOPE's outreach clinics both in and outside of her usual midwifery and has functioned mostly in a primary care capacity seeing adult patients with assistance from the deep experience and knowledge of the other volunteers. She has also strived to share and learn from the great knowledge base of the local midwives as part of an international community of “women taking care of women.” Their ability to make the most of limited resources in a rural location has been inspiring because “every woman deserves to have a healthy and safe pregnancy.”
Allison Caravana-Lilly has delighted in her chance to be part of a team offering health care to small, rural communities, “barangay” in the Tagalog language. She's been most involved in the registration process and keeping everyone organized, allowing her to work with patients suffering from conditions such as TB and goiter rarely seen at MGH. Though she has only had a few opportunities to practice her usual social work, helping draft the long-term activities of HOPE in the Tapaz region has allowed her to include important social priorities in those future plans.
The other volunteer social worker on this rotation, Elizabeth Parker, has also been busy helping investigate the current health care situation in the Tapaz region to best position HOPE in the months to come. She's most impressed with how a concern for social welfare is already ingrained in the community-based health care system through door to door checks of rural, impoverished families to identify those most at risk. Before coming to the Philippines, she also did not anticipate the extreme warmth, appreciation and hospitality that would be displayed by the local hosts at HOPE's outreach clinics.
The volunteer pharmacy tech on this rotation is April Madrigal, a native Filipino who moved to the US at the age of 13. Though she greatly enjoys her pharmacy work in Boston, April loves the appreciation and smiles she receives in her work at HOPE's outreach clinics as compared to the frustration that often accompanies working through insurance problems at home. After arriving, April immediately got the HOPE pharmacy stock organized on a professional level to the awe of the rest of the volunteers. Her time in the Philippines growing up and visiting in the years since has mainly been in cities. So spending a few weeks in a rural, mountainous setting is a new experience that she is really enjoying.
Another new HOPE volunteer is Amanda Harwood, an emergency room nurse at MGH. She's been floored by how resilient the people of this region have been after the typhoon and how kind and generous they are at the outreach clinics. Two girls wrote Amanda a thank you note, a token from this experience that means a lot to her. It's been humbling to see what the people of Tapaz do with such a lack of resources and has broadened her understanding of global health care situations. This, and learning from the wide variety of experiences shared throughout the group, has inspired Amanda to absolutely work on this kind of mission again.
Dr. AK Goodman is the one member of the MGH team who has volunteered before with HOPE and has extensive experience in international medical humanitarian work. Her own projects in Bangladesh and elsewhere occupy all of her vacation time away from being an OBGYN Oncologist at MGH. Here in Tapaz, she has delighted in learning from the local population by trying to see their situation though fresh eyes and without preconceptions. AK has also been cross-training with other members of the HOPE team in ways for everyone to expand their abilities, even teaching Amanda and Katherine the basics of ultrasound prenatal checkups with the device that she brought with her.
The “Boston Six” are excited to make the most of their remaining time in the Tapaz region before returning to the winter season and hectic work back at MGH.
Posted By Jeremy Rosado, recording artist and Project HOPE supporter on January 14, 2014
Jeremy Rosado, recording artist from Valrico, FL and American Idol 2012 Finalist, is donating $.50 of each download on iTunes of his new single “Hope For Tomorrow” to Project HOPE’s disaster recovery work in the Philippines. The song debuts today on iTunes.
When I was a contestant on American Idol back in 2012, I received thousands of messages of support from loyal fans in the Philippines. I had about as many fans in the Philippines as I did here at home. When I heard about what happened with the typhoon in November, my heart just shattered into pieces. And I thought, “What can I do? How can I help?”
The answer, of course, was through my music. I told Mike Buckley, President of my record label AIC Records, that I wanted to help the people in the Philippines through my new single, “Hope For Tomorrow.” Mike had just seen an article in The Boston Globe about Project HOPE sending medical volunteers to the Philippines to help out in hard-hit areas, and he thought that Project HOPE could be a great organization to support.
Fast forward a few weeks later. After I had signed a contract designating $.50 of each $1.29 download on iTunes to Project HOPE’s Philippines typhoon recovery fund, I went to Project HOPE’s headquarters in Millwood, Virginia for a two-day visit. It was so great to meet everybody there, and it made me so excited to be involved with the organization.
At HOPE’s headquarters last Thursday, I met staff members including President and CEO, Dr. Howe. I got to learn all about how Project HOPE is helping people in the Philippines whose lives were torn apart by the typhoon – through donations of badly-needed medicines and supplies and sending volunteer health professionals to supplement medical care in devastated areas.
After spending the morning at HOPE’s headquarters, I made my way over to Cue Recording Studios in Falls Church, VA, where I put some of the finishing touches on “Hope for Tomorrow.”
On Friday morning, I sat down for a couple of interviews about my new song, “Hope For Tomorrow,” at two local radio stations, 92.5 WINC-FM and Big Country 105.3. And later on that morning, WINC-FM world premiered “Hope for Tomorrow.” It was exciting hearing it played on the radio for the very first time.
Later on Friday, I went to Project HOPE’s nearby distribution center, where I helped staff members pack up some of the $5 million-worth of medicines and supplies that were being shipped to the Philippines to help out with typhoon relief. It was so great to see what the donations from my song were going to do.
All in all, my trip to Project HOPE was fantastic. And I can’t wait for my Red Carpet Event on February 25th at the Hard Rock Café in Nashville, when I will perform “Hope for Tomorrow” and some of my other songs.
My song “Hope For Tomorrow” debuts on iTunes today. And for every 100,000 downloads of “Hope for Tomorrow,” Project HOPE and AIC Records have agreed to send two fans to the Philippines with me to see HOPE’s continuing medical mission in action, and to watch me perform. Don’t forget to enter the contest now!
Posted By: Jon Brack on January 13, 2014
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.
Posted By Ted Wendel, Project HOPE volunteer on January 7, 2014
Airish, 5, is a very special young lady. She is the daughter of Ruby Ann Fecaro Bellow (known to everyone here as “TaTa”).
Ruby and her family are committed to the community of Tapaz and to the mission of Project HOPE. Ruby’s sister is the mayor of Tapaz City, and Ruby is a council woman. The mayor is a champion of the Project HOPE medical outreach programs and provides important connections between Project HOPE volunteers and the local government, Filipino military, local barangay officials and regional health care workers.
Ruby and Airish live in the home adjacent to the home where Project HOPE’s volunteers are staying. Ruby was instrumental in helping the initial Project HOPE group find a space that could house 18 volunteers in a community where most homes struggle to provide accommodation for more than six. Ruby also arranges to have the home kept clean, laundry done and meals prepared. She and her father Wapple prepare breakfast and dinner for everyone at the Project HOPE site each day.
More importantly, Ruby has become the community face for Project HOPE and especially the Project HOPE medical outreach programs. She goes on initial site assessments and coordinates our activities with the barangay officials. When our volunteers partake in medical outreach activities, she is there to lend her language skills as our English-speaking volunteers explain complex conditions and medications to individuals who speak Illongo.
Project HOPE has made a dramatic impact in the City of Tapaz since November. The recovery from Yolanda has moved into a phase of longer-term projects that focus less on the acute aspects of disaster recovery. Project HOPE has a well-established foundation of relationships to ensure success in our projects and will continue working to improve the health status of the 50,000 people Ruby calls her neighbors.
Posted By Ted Wendel, Project HOPE volunteer on December 30, 2013
The rain came down in sheets, but the people of Barangay Katapunit poured into the grounds of the elementary school to be seen at a medical outreach set up by Project HOPE volunteers. The cool rain was a relief after a week of heat and humidity.
The day began before dawn for the team as they traveled for almost an hour to the site. There appear to be four types of roads on Panay Island. The combination of bumpy roads and rain made the trip to Katapunit an adventure to start the day.
In spite of the less than ideal weather, the leaders of Barangay Katapunit were there early to greet the team. The Project HOPE volunteers set up a medical outreach site in less than an hour. Elementary school classrooms were quickly transformed into adult and pediatric “examination rooms,” a place to collect patient vital signs, a well-stocked pharmacy, a small surgical area and a patient education room. The eighteen members of the team had specific responsibilities and shortly after arriving they were actively involved in screening the community members as they streamed in.
Over a period of six hours the team provided care for more than 200 people. Virtually everyone arrived on foot. Some of those who were seen had walked over five miles to get there. Some just needed a medical check-up while others presented with complex and challenging medical issues.
The day included a humorous note when Dr. Steve Gardner from Massachusetts General Hospital did a mental status exam on an elderly woman. Part of the exam involves asking the woman to remember three objects. A few minutes later, Dr. Gardner asked the woman if she remembered the objects. She did not, but Dr Gardner was surprised to see 15 hands raised in the back of the room ready to answer the question.
The late afternoon trip back to Tapaz was more challenging than the morning trip. The rain had made the roads quite muddy. The team arrived “home” a little damp and tired but proud of the way they had served a community that rarely sees health care professionals.