The Sathya Sai Medical Mission to Philippines, 21-25 June 2014
By Dr. Sathya Rao
A 5 day Medical Camp was held in Tacloban, Philipines organised by the Sathya Sai International Organization [SSIO]. This is the sixth medical camp being held in Philipines under the Sai banner after the island was massively destroyed by full force of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) on 8 November 2013 causing massive destruction across the city. As of 14 January 2014, the official death toll stood at 6,201 persons and more than nine million people have been affected. After 8 months, many are still struggling to survive with scarcity of clean drinking water, food, shelter and medical aid.
The medical camp was held in the Municipality of Dulag, a poor rural district, one hour drive south from Tacloban city – an area much impacted by typhoon Yolanda with the eye of the storm passing over the town and it was recorded as the world’s strongest storm of the year 2013. The Sai International medical camp team consisted of 5 medical practitioners, 1 dentist, 1 nurse/psychologist and 5 general volunteers coming from all over the world namely Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Italy, Germany, Norway and Austria.
Every day, the team serviced a different area and a total of 2095 patients were seen, including 179 dental patients. All patients received medical consultations, dental care, medications and health supplements all for free of charge. Some 300 people engaged in a Stress Alleviation Intervention (S.A.I.) training program to help all victims to handle the post stress period and also to alleviate stress related hypertension. The S.A.I. protocol was then followed by a general health promotion session. The session focused on healthy living tips for instance balance food, drinking water, regular exercise, oral hygiene, general hygiene, avoidance of cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse. Besides, health education on screening and prevention of diabetes and hypertension as well as discussion on related complications and the need for compliance to these medications were emphasized since huge quantities of these medications were dispensed during the medical camp.
For most of the team members, the day starts early at 6 am. Everyday, the team moves from one location to the other covering 5 poverty stricken areas that were identified. The journey starts with prayer and the team travels by local ‘jeepneys’ to the medical camp site. The scenic view of the island interspersed with dilapidated homes and tents reminded everyone of the magnitude of the devastation and delay in reconstruction. At the location, either a ramshackle hall, local clinic or even a made-shift tent is set to home the medical camp. Registration counter, consultation area and pharmacy are fabricated. After completing the camp, the team moves to the ‘Sai Home’ where prayer and bhajans are conducted daily and followed by technical meeting and dinner. The day officially ends at 9 pm and everyone sits down talking about their love for Swami and His leelas in each person’s life. Thereafter, the entire Sai family adjourns for a well deserved rest.
Although it was a small team representing different countries and various cultures, the group became a cohesive team right from the start with one single focus, to Love All and Serve All. It was truly, pure bliss! Thank you Lord for allowing us to serve You dear Lord in the hearts of all those whom we met and touched.