Summer Days, Musings and Filipino Independence Day

12 06 2019

I admit that these HOT summer days have drained all of my energy and drive to get things done. As I drive my car to the clinic I pass by my neighbours working in their yards, doing their laundry, drying rice on the road … I know they must feel the heat too, but they keep going.

I arrive at the clinic and let out a big sigh followed by “It is so hot!!”. To which my Filipino staff reply, “Yes bossing, it is hot.” Meanwhile in the birth room there is a first time mom labouring quietly to bring her baby into the world. Her midwives try to keep the fans going to keep her cool and keep bringing her water to drink so she stays hydrated. She doesn’t complain, she just keeps labouring in earnest. A little while later the clinic is filled with cries of a newborn baby and there is a happy and exhausted mom.

This post is meant as a tribute to the way the locals here in Kalinga just get things done. They don’t stop to complain about how things difficult something is, or how uncomfortable they are, they just get on with it.

I first came to the Philippines over 15 years ago and the more years I spend here the more beauty I see. Of course there are always frustrations and cultural differences that can make me crazy, but these are usually because I am particularly impatient or uncomfortable that day.

Some of my favourite things about the culture here in Kalinga:

  • Children are treasured. My kids get loved on and smiled at wherever they go.
  • Everyone loves to laugh! Everywhere they go they bring the party 🙂
  • There is a great cultural pride for the way things have been done for hundreds of years. A lot of the times, the original ways are the best ways.
  • Fathers as well as mothers are great caregivers for their little ones. You will often see dads working around the yard with their babies tied on their backs.
  • Sharing is as important a value for adults as it is children. Being told you are generous is one of the highest compliments.

Oh, and the babies here are the absolute cutest! I will leave you here with a picture of one of our sweet babies born at the clinic.





Medical Mission to the Mountains

21 04 2019
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The village of Ableg, Pasil.

This April we hosted a group of 19 Canadians from Samaritan’s Purse for a medical mission. This was our 5th Samaritan’s Purse team and we reached out to four new communities and two old ones.

The SP Canada team consisted of three doctors, one Nurse Practitioner, 6 nurses, one EMT and lots of support team members who ran eyeglass clinic, blessed the children in many villages and lead the team.

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Lovely translating for Dr. Adel in Pasil.

 

We went to Malignant and Taga in Pinukpuk, Ableg and Balenciagao in Pasil, and Pakak and Magsaysay in Tabuk City. The Armed Forces of the Philippines joined us again and provided haircuts for kids in all locations. In total, we cared for almost 2000 patients!

 

The SP Canada team could not have reached as many patients without the help of our big local team of translators, cooks, midwives and helpers.

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Me and some of my team heading to the next stop.

Our two weeks together was an example of how two different cultures and backgrounds can work together to bless many more than either could do on their own.

Thank you to our wonderful team of Canadians who gave up time and finances to serve alongside us sharing God’s Love with the Families of Kalinga.

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The whole combined Canadian/Filipino team! 

Ken and Ann Hastings, Rian and Zelda Du Plooy, Emily Way, Janelle Jeong, Elaine Wall and Taryn Bender, Len and Shelley Hyatt,  Laurin and Ruby Trudel, Brenda Servold, Annita Doherty, Adel Naude, Rick Campbell, April Belsheim, Annamarie Snyman and Erin Neufeld.

(Not to be forgotten, the three Filipinos from Baguio who also joined for half of the mission: Angela, Jonathan and Dennis!)





How to Pray During a Typhoon.

21 09 2018

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Last week we had a super typhoon blow through the Province of Kalinga. Tabuk City, the place where Abundant Grace of God is located, was going to be right in the center of the storm.

We knew the typhoon was coming and I saw posts on Facebook and other social media platforms asking for prayer. Yes, I think I even asked for prayer.

Then I though to myself “What am I actually asking God to do?”

Was I asking Him to send the typhoon in another direction? Honestly I don’t think God really works that way, but even if He did would I really want to ask Him to send the typhoon to other people in other places? That sure didn’t seem right.

Was I asking Him to let the typhoon lose force before it makes landfall? Again, I don’t think God works this way as I am pretty sure typhoons are a part of how the “nature” works.

I guess I can agree with the prayers for safety for all of those in the path. However two years ago when another typhoon blew through Tabuk and levelled almost the whole village of Pakak, through the generosity of Samaritan’s Purse Canada, the families were able to build better, stronger homes.

I settled on praying this prayer “God… be with us. Amen”

He was with us.

He was with us when not one of the new homes in the village of Pakak was destroyed.

He was with us when we had no power or water at the clinic but still helped to welcome five new babies into the world. It seems typhoons bring babies out!

He was with us when a teenage mom came to us in labor with only her little sister to accompany her. He was with us when this teen mom delivered a premature baby who needed help breathing. He was with us as we were able to get him admitted to a private hospital that was able to care for baby until he was able to breath on his own.

 

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The older I get, the less sure I am about the best “way” to pray, but the more sure I am about Who is listening.

 





“I saw a woman almost die giving birth in my village …”

10 03 2018

Our clinic in Bugnay has been renovated and re-inspected and re-opened!

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This week my friend Kathleen and I drove up to visit the Bugnay extension clinic to say hello and bring encouragement … mostly in the form of ice cream :).

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We have been unofficially open for almost a year now but this month we finished the final renovations required by Dept of Health and had our final inspection.

This morning before writing this blog I was talking to Jackie, one of the Bugnay midwives. She shared a story about the time she saw a woman from her village almost die giving birth and how it made her decide to become a midwife.

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When Jackie was a teenager, she witnessed a woman in labor with her first baby in her home village of Buscalan. She watched this woman push for almost 24 hours with only the old women in the village attending to her. Jackie was so scared to see this woman already so swollen and exhausted, hanging from a doorway trying with all her strength to deliver her baby. After 24 hours of pushing and no baby, the villagers carried the woman to the road where they waited for a vehicle to take her to the hospital one hour away.

The woman delivered via C-section and both mom and baby survived, but this experience made Jackie realize that her village really needed trained midwives and she was going to become one!

Trained midwives are the most effective way to reduce maternal mortality. More midwives, equipped birth centres and referral systems are needed all over the world to help mothers survive childbirth.

I will leave you with a picture of the beautiful village of Bugnay. Please remember to pray for this clinic and the staff there, that we will be a part of reducing maternal mortality while sharing God’s love with the people of Kalinga.

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Check-ups, Tooth pulling and Haircuts??

7 12 2017

Yes, you read that title correctly! This November we hosted a Samaritan’s Purse Canada medical mission where we were able to provide all three services and more!

On November 7, a team of ten Canadians (Ken, Dr.John, Mercedes, Erin, Stephen, Kelli, Darcy, Rhonda, Laura and Betty) arrived in Tabuk City and promptly jumped up on top of a jeepney and took off with us to the mountains!

on top of jeepOur team consisted of the ten Canadians (doctors, Nurse practitioners, nurses, an EMT, a psychologist … the list goes on!) and about 30 local church members, midwives, pastors, interpreters and over 20 members of the Philippine Army.

 

We spent the next 10 days together, bringing all sorts of care to some of the most remote places in Kalinga. One of the places we went to was a municipality called Pasil.

 

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Pasil was one of the hardest hit areas during the typhoon last year and although we had sent some relief supplies we had not yet been able to go there in person. One of the local churches helped to arrange our accommodations in the village and we had lots of patients waiting to see us. We were so happy to have the local municipal doctor and dentist join us for our mission in Pasil so that we could bring even more services!

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Working with the army was a last minute addition to the mission but I can see in hindsight that it probably was God’s plan all along. We needed a dentist to join our team ASAP and so myself and Cheryl, one of the local pastors, visited the army barracks to ask for help. The commander couldn’t have been more welcoming and he promised to send not only a dentist, but a whole group of soldiers to give haircuts in the outreach villages as well as to be our security.

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During our 10-day mission to Pasil, Lucog and Pinukpuk we were able to see over 500 patients for medical check-ups and counselling, 157 dental patients, over 200 haircuts more than 250 eye exams with free glasses, as well as many prenatal check-ups and blood tests! The team also built a much needed wall in our clinic and 2 brand new tables!

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Thank you SP Canada for sending this team to be a blessing to the people of Kalinga!

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Bugnay Stories

10 10 2017

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We have been busy getting our Bugnay extension clinic up and running since January this year. Finally in June, all of the Bugnay staff moved up to the centre and began setting up, finishing decorating and organizing and visiting patients!

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The Bugnay clinic staff on their way to visit mothers in a neighbouring village.

Since we opened our doors again in June, we have performed hundreds of Primary Healthy Care check-ups, hiked into 4 different villages bringing prenatal care, and done dozens of emergency hospital transports.

Here is a story about a particularly harrowing transport.

Tribal War!  – by Aisling Lynch (Irish missionary midwife currently serving in Bugnay)

We had just finished up our prenatal day and were tidying up the clinic when we heard that tribal war was declared that afternoon between 2 nearby villages. Less than 30 minutes later an ambulance from the nearby Rural Health Unit (RHU) stops outside the clinic and an armed policeman jumps out calling for help. Inside the ambulance was a midwife friend of ours who works at the RHU. There was a young man in the ambulance who had been shot in the head and was going into shock. Their oxygen tank was broken so we swapped it with ours and as our friend was on her own, I got into the ambulance to help her.

The journey to the hospital takes about an hour and it is a very narrow, windy road through the mountains. Myself and the other midwife took turns keeping pressure on the head wound while keeping the young man’s head stable, all the while checking his pulse and blood pressure. There were no seatbelts in the ambulance so it was no easy task to do this for an hour while being thrown around the back of the ambulance every few minutes. A few times on the journey we could not find his pulse but then he opened his eyes just as we were starting CPR. I have never been so relieved as we passed that final bend in the road and saw the hospital in front of us. It was surreal to start our handover to the hospital staff with “Gunshot wound to the head” all the while with 2 fully armed police officers keeping watch.

The young man was stabilized at the local hospital but as they were not equipped for this kind of injury, he was then transferred 6 hours away to another hospital. The last I heard, he survived his injury and is undergoing treatment for a brain injury.

The journey back to the clinic was just as scary but for different reasons. The lights in the ambulance weren’t working well and then is started raining. Guess what else wasn’t working well? That’s right, the windshield wipers! The driver had to drive with his head out the window so that he could see where we were going. Fair play to the driver though, we made it safely back to the clinic!

We are so excited to have our “Waiting Home” open for mothers hiking from far flung villages to deliver with us. Although we have not had our official “Grand Opening” we have delivered 4 babies so far!

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“Itess” and her new baby girl!

We are hoping to combine the “Grand Opening” with our Christmas party so we will hope that the Dept. of Health will expedite our applications!

I will also try to post more regularly!

 





Staff Retreat 2017

9 02 2017

“Abundant Grace of God Maternity Center Inc.” turns 10 this year! To commemorate this anniversary, Achao and I took all of our staff and their families to the beach!

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AGGMC Staff Picture — with a few extras.

We had two midwives from a busy birth centre in Manila come to cover our clinic while we went to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte for a whole three days!  We spent the time playing and relaxing on the beach.

We also had some team building activities where we learned about our different personality types and how we can work together.

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We have so many “Agreeable” personalities in our group!

We ended off our weekend celebrating Ellora and Vienna as they finish off their two and a half years of service with us.

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Praying for Ellora and Vienna as the evening closes.

Thank you for all of your support and prayers that help make this retreat a success!