Last May 23, 2015, a group of Xaver students arranged and participated in a medical mission held in Barangay Buayang Bato, Mandaluyong City. The program lasted from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon at the barangay’s basketball court, with prescriptions administered by volunteer doctors from the Mandaluyong City health office; meanwhile, the Xavier volunteers arranged and dispensed the medicines and also ushered the participating residents. The medical mission was the second one that was arranged by individuals from our batch, intended to provide residents of the barangay with the medicines they needed, as well as to promote healthful practices among them.
After an initial ocular visit to the site, a long term commitment was made to the welfare of the residents of Barangay Buayang Bato. Because of this, a follow-up medical mission was planned as soon as the first one was accomplished. Once again, a meeting was set with the barangay captain to discuss the details of the medical mission. As this was not the first time the group would be working with the local government, many of the details such as choosing a venue, obtaining materials, announcing a date for the medical mission, as well as obtaining approval from the Mandaluyong City Government went quickly. In a few days, the basketball court had been reserved, doctors had been contacted, and representatives from the barangay were on hand to help out
To prepare for the project, the Xaverians divided the tasks among several of the volunteer students. On one hand, Montgomery Ngan coordinated with the Mandaluyong city health office as well as with the barangay to ensure that all of the doctors and speakers knew of the medical mission. On the other hand, Ethan Chua obtained medicines from organizations such as Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines Cares (PHAPCares), Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF), UNILAB, and The Generics Pharmacy. At times, difficulties were encountered in securing medicines and procuring aid, but most of the contacts eventually followed through with even more medicines received than the first medical mission.
On the day of the medical mission, many fellow Xaverians volunteered to help out (Kevin Tan, James Lai, Shaun Tan, Sedrick Keh, Spencer Keh, Tristan Tiu, Sean Sy, Terrill Simeon, Simone Salvador, Carl Cham, Nathan Oranga, Leonard Lim, Mark Chua). Later, Ms. Aimee Apolinario, XS High School Principal, visited to check on our progress as well. Throughout the program, the volunteers took on different roles to ensure that all aspects of the mission went well. Several of them organized the medicines and took charge of distribution while others ushered the members of the community to the different check up areas. Furthermore, others took the blood pressure and weight of the participants.
In contrast to the first medical mission, the second medical mission went far more smoothly as the local government and the volunteers knew what to expect. The barangay officials helped set up tables for the doctors and volunteers from the city health office. At the same time, they created a list of participants so there was no confusion as to the order of who was to be checked up. On the part of the volunteers, everyone was assigned roles beforehand so the facilitation of the check ups was efficient. The conclusion was a greatly successful medical mission with more medicines gathered for donation and more residents reached in a shorter amount of time than before.
After the medical mission, everyone realized that service needn’t be difficult; in fact, the best way to help the residents of Buayang Bato isn’t limited to being the manufacturers of the medicines, nor being doctors, but as a channel through which various medicine companies and medical specialists could work together to help a community. The students’ role was to bridge the gap between those who had the resources to help out, and those who deeply needed to be provided help. As such, there are several ways to serve, and that even students can work to give back to the less fortunate.
Likewise, the value of cooperation stood out–without a sizeable group of volunteers, the medical mission would have been a disaster. However, because there were enough people to sort the medicines, dispense the medicines, usher the patients, guide the doctors, and even interact with the kids, working together created a successful charity program. And, often, the people who volunteered didn’t need any special background or knowledge to give their all and to do their part.
By the end of the medical mission, the true value of service was learned. It brought people from disparate backgrounds and perspectives together, and it formed unexpected bonds. Doctors from the local government worked together with high school juniors and seniors to prescribe and dispense medicines. Government officials worked hand in hand with barangay residents to organize the flow of patients. And, having organized a medical mission for a second time, the students learned the value of commitment and continuity–helping Barangay Buayang Bato again was even more fulfilling than before.