I can’t believe that it has already been a month. It seems like it was just yesterday when I landed in Manila and saw the bright city lights. I remember arriving at the condo and getting to know the other volunteers for the first time- not knowing that we would grow extremely close over the next few weeks. Most importantly though, I find it difficult to fathom how much I have seen and done so far, and yet, how much more I would like to contribute to the goal of my mission trip.
As a volunteer for FIMRC’s Project Tondo site in Manila, everyday I am met with the realities that the locals have to face when trying to access healthcare. At the Canossa Clinic in Tondo, I see how the large number of tuberculosis patients in the area come in to receive their daily medication. Many of the patients live in dirt covered rooms right next to landfills of garbage, and struggle with finding clean food and water- which often factors into their health concerns. Thus, the clinic tries to combat this with the promise of a hot meal, as an incentive for patients to stick with their scheduled medications. At the Philippine General Hospital, the rooms overflow with patients of all cases. The rooms have beds lined up next to each other, leaving no space for family member to sit down; families sleep underneath the patient’s bed if they want to stay overnight. Sometimes, patients have to wait three days before receiving a consultation due to the high capacity of patients that visit.
It is eye-opening to see the difficulties that locals encounter in order to receive medical care. In the hospitals I have volunteered at in the United States, I never had to worry about things that appeared so simple to me, like having air conditioning, hand sanitizer easily available, or access to a working bathroom. These seemingly little things I took for granted are huge issues in the medical institutions I volunteer in, and I realize how much privilege I have had in my ability to receive medical access in the United States. I will carry these lessons I have learned so far this first month, and look forward to garnering more in my second month in Manila.