Three weeks from now, our team of 42 volunteers from Memphis, California, and Chicago will embark on a journey to Carmona, Cavite Philippines! We are hustling to finish the preparations, last minute changes, etc. Once we land, we know it is game on and time to work! We are so excited.
This year’s mission is marked by a few specific events of note:
- We are being invited by one of my mom’s best friends from 1973. Amy Zamora is a nurse from the Philippines, who joined my mom and others on the scary journey to the US to work as an RN in Memphis, TN. They and others quickly became a band of sisters and brothers, helping each other survive physically and emotionally in the City we have since called Home. Auntie Amy helped raise my brother after he was born, so that my dad could go to Nurse Anesthesia school at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. I tell my brother that we kind of owe her our lives. Here we are full circle now, joining back with Auntie Amy and her family, in their town of Carmona, to serve a community marred by the stigma of once being the “town dump” of Manila. Literally. What was once a community of squatters is now a challenged community of over 70K individuals who live too close to Manila to be recipients of much charitable care, and far away enough to have challenge accessing such care. The local government has built a shell of a hospital, but has not yet been able to fully activate the space, due to this stigma. We will play a role in activating that space, and we are honored to do so.
- This year we have the biggest team ever, and it happens to be full of people that go way back! My mentor from Santa Barbara, along with a host of others who helped train me, area all coming along. A team of more than 11 folks from SB! The circle of life:) We have our very first mission doctor, John Hodges, joining us to provide expert care for our cleft lip and palate kiddos. And we also have joining us a team of doctors from Manila who have joined us over the years to provide surgical and anesthesia care. Lastly, I have two colleagues from the Department of Surgery here in Memphis at UT, as well as a stellar General Surgery Chief Resident, who we are so blessed to have!
- After this mission, we will travel to our permanent mission site in Victorias, Negros Occidental. We will meet with the Mayor, receive a donation of land for the hospital, and receive a survey in preparation for building!
- Lastly, we have formed a Board of Directors! We are so blessed to have a wonderful team join us in this work, and we will share stories about each of them over the next few months!
Thanks so much in walking with us on this journey.