As much as I want to paint a pretty “flowers and rainbows” picture for you all on what this day’s experience was like, I would be lying. It is hard work filled with trouble shooting and dealing with politics. So know that as I share the following, it is more from a place of knowing that in order for Be the Change to further our reach Globally, it is going to take leaders to emerge and pave the way for our outreach to be furthered in areas that they are passionate about. But in order to give a realistic perspective of what the process is like, the truth learned through our experiences may have less of a blindsiding affect if built into their foundation of knowledge from the get-go- so here are raw and real glimpses into the “other side” to medical missions beyond all the smiles.
So much time and resources were wasted on giving out shirts in return for Filipino volunteers to serve along side of us. People said they would come and didn’t, people took shirts for people who didn’t have the courtesy of actually showing up. Some of the Filipino volunteers who did show really left a bad taste in the mouth of our team because their lack of care or interest in actually serving out their role on our team and had more of an interest in texting or playing on their phone. On top of that, the vendor we got our shirts from shorted us A LOT of shirts, which added another layer of complications.
Once we gained control of the mess the free shirts created, next was the mess of registration. What blows my mind is that we didn’t experience this lack of patience and respect from patients on the first day of clinic at my parents house…just during the 2 big days of medical mission. No one knew the concept of forming a line or waiting their turn. People formed mobs around the tables which prevented us from working as a team and seeing what stations/volunteers opened. A lot of time was wasted forming barriers to prevent the mobs from bombarding us. I have my theories on this but would be its own posting in itself if I expounded on this topic.
One awesome part to this day (that I will take a break from the negativity with) is the Edicute Volunteers! A large group of volunteers traveled 3+ hours to volunteer with our team! With little time to orient them to what we had available for the children’s ministry, they took it and ran what looked to be one of the most successful children’s ministries I’ve ever seen! I cannot express the proper amount of gratitude I felt for them and I look forward to being able to serve with them in wintertime, because I know there is A LOT Be the Change can learn from Edicute.
Another amazing aspect to this day was PhilJoy and her amazing team of Lawyers that set up a station to provide free legal counsel to the community. They provided affidavits and paperwork in order for the community to get access to birth certificates and other legal documentation.
Vision and dental were THE most sought-after service offered during the Medical Missions. This is encouraging because Vision is one of the easiest donations to procure and easiest to execute. Dental was only made possible because to the generous donations provided by Dr. Allen and Danna’s network! There was some politics faced with the partnership with the Filipino Dental team but can discuss that offline with anyone who is interested in learning from those experiences.
Then came the beast of the Pharmacy. Another shout out to the Edicute team for seeing the need and jumping into the challenge learning on-the-job how to assist in the Pharmacy and really helping us crank out the prescriptions!
Again the mobs were such a huge issue! People felt they had to bombard the tables, look through every prescription and refused to have a seat in the area we provided as they waited to be called. We eventually created a barrier that provided sanity to our volunteers enough for them to focus, fill the prescriptions and so that the patients can see when the next patient number was called (Finally!)
Lesson learned is be careful with who helps you in the pharmacy because some of the local volunteers spent more time handing their friends and family medications in the back of the pharmacy than they did assisting in our efforts.
I would imagine that most medical mission teams probably face these examples of politics and negatives on their trips, and I bet there will always be some level of it regardless of what is done or changed. It may be easier just to stick to what is familiar and been done, but what was uncovered during this day and the other big Medical Mission day really began to tug at my heart that there is a better way to do all of this.
This is the same tug I felt when I found myself broken with the way we were doing our medical missions and knew there was more we could be doing; thus the Continuation of Care Clinic came to life. So even though I have some initial ideas on how to hopefully overcome or move forward from these negative lessons learned, I will be sitting in prayer in anticipation for what God is going to call us to next out of this because I can feel something brewing.
To end on a positive note, Hung had a great idea to interview the locals to gain insight into the healthcare and programs offered to this area. So we had a quick panel discussion with a group of local teachers before heading to dinner. Door closed to the usual fun place we take our teams, but opened to a yummy alternative restaurant with THE worlds largest Halo-Halo dessert!