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Medical Mission

organised by ACIM ASIA
Tacloban, Leyte, Philipppines

Day 0 - January 19

Here we come for the Eighth Medical Mission of ACIM-ASIA and the Asian District of the Society of St Pius X ! Tacloban was obviously the best choice for the location this year after the tragic Yolanda Typhoon of November 7-8, 2013. We had heard so much about it that, compelled by our holy faith and divine charity, we had to come and do our part.

Arrival in Tacloban

Arrival in Tacloban

The last night of the journey was short for a good number of us: arriving in Manila airport from all over the world on Saturday evening, our flights for Tacloban were around 4.30 a.m. which also meant sleeping on chairs or on the airport floor… a good start for a mission of charity. Then, after a flight disturbed by a lot of turbulence, we finally reached our destination and had the chance to meet the local team. The first impression of an outside volunteer was to notice that the Filipinos are a very kind and generous people - always ready to offer help, time, and services to others.

After the Holy Mass celebrated by the district superior of Asia, Father Couture, and sung by the Brothers of St Bernard Novitiate who all came for the Mission (it took them 4 days to do what can be done by plane in 2 ½ hours), we had brunch in a local restaurant where we could talk to each other and get to know the other volunteers. What a surprise to see people from different continents joining together to make this mission a success!

A new feature in this year’s mission is that we have added a “construction team” to the medical team. So much physical damage has been caused by the typhoon - such as the complete destruction of the SSPX chapel and severe damaged, if not completely destroyed houses of our faithful – that the mission had to be more than merely medical.

Orientation meeting

In the afternoon, we have the important orientation meeting with all the volunteers. This year, so far (I say ‘so far’ because we are awaiting more volunteers, from Manila and the other islands, who have not been able to come yet because of the cancellation of many ferries due to rough waters), we are 51 volunteers who have responded to the call for the Rosa Mystica Mission. We introduced ourselves by giving our name, country of origin, profession, and the reason we came to the mission. We have 7 volunteers from Australia, most of them are helping in the construction mission. Like every year, volunteers from France are numerous, 23; and as usual, their French leader, Doctor Dickes, is full of energy. We also count 8 US volunteers, among whom is a very important member of the Rosa Mystica, Doctor Elizabeth Phalen, who has come for the eighth time from far away North Carolina. Others come from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, Switzerland, and Belgium. Of course, we are not very useful without the help of the Filipinos who are doing an enormous and wonderful job, both in the medical area and now necessary translating role.

The SSPX chapel that needs to be restored in Christ

We are from different countries, we speak different languages, and we have different ages and backgrounds; but we have one thing in common. We have the same faith and charity, and the same willingness to help the population of Tacloban, so unfortunately hit by the Yolanda Typhoon on November 8th.

The situation in Tacloban is worse than expected. We did not know what we were going to see, despite the images we saw in the news. The majority of the buildings are destroyed; people are living in the street; and waste covers the roads. Nevertheless, life seems to continue, and people are trying to recover.

The children's pharmacy gets organised

The first boxes of medicines are arriving. The pharmacy is getting organized in the dark as there are no lights in the astrodome (stadium) where the mission takes place. The volunteers are ready, even excited, to begin the mission.

Isabelle, from Belgium
First Mission

The nights come early in Tacloban, and there is no electricity in the dome