Global Health Engagement – Team Philippines Update #1
Mabuhay! We have had quite the adventure so far this week. Our travel day began very early in the morning Saturday, July 7th. Family and friends gathered at the campus to pray over and send off our team. Because of the time difference, when we landed it was Sunday evening. Monday’s activities were cancelled because of the expected typhoon, however, we did not experience any rain. Instead, a few UST students took us to the local mall to purchase a few things and exchange money.
We had the opportunity to serve in a rehab center for disabled children in Mandaluyong the first week. The R.E.A.C.H Foundation (Rehabilitation and Empowerment of Adults and Children with Handicaps) is a community based non-profit that offers services for families that couldn’t otherwise afford care for their children. They offer physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and vocational classes. We had the opportunity to see patients that were diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, autism and down syndrome.
We learned from the physical therapist that there is a huge shortage of healthcare professionals in the Philippines. At this center, there are only 13 professionals (with the help of interns) that serve 1,000 patients. He also explained that this type of care for disabled individuals is not provided by the government like we see in the US. This began to give us an understanding of the healthcare system here. This week we also had the chance to accompany the staff on home visits for patients whose condition inhibited them from traveling to the facility. We saw adolescent patients diagnosed with quadriplegia cerebral palsy. The homes we visited were incredibly small and many times housed at least 9 family members. This gave us a better understanding of the need for the R.E.A.C.H center in this community.
On Friday, the interns ran a fitness class with high functioning teenage patients. We were able to work out with them and observe more of the variety of work that the interns and professionals do at R.E.A.C.H. Throughout the week we were amazed by the passion the interns had for their work and their patients.
For our first excursion, we spent the day at Villa Escudero, a historical plantation and resort. Our tour included a family museum of archaeological artifacts and private collections of antique relics from periods ranging from Pre-History, Spanish colonial times to World War II. Lunch was served at the foot of a waterfall, which was awesome! We ended the day with a cultural dance and performance of the history of the Philippine Islands.
• Continued health and safety for the team
• Intentional conversations with our interns and patients
Thank you for your continued prayers and support! We will be posting another blog entry at the conclusion of next week.