Aloha Medical Mission and Congress of Visayan Organization members with banner, group shot
AMM and COVO planting tree at site, a sign of permanent relationship between Hawaii and PI
We're ready to come home. We've had an extremely positive experience here personally and professionally, but we're road-weary. The 15 hour days are getting physically tiring, and the heat and humidity exacerbate the fatigue. Mentally, we're still charged and excited to be here. All our electronic equipment like someone's Ipod, my computer, and some of the gear, is acting weird. We think it's the humidity.
This morning the AMM went to the mudslide for the first time as a group. They planted a tree for the survivors and as a symbol of the tie between Hawaii and the Philippines. The mayor of the municipality attended, and wept with emotion at the thought of us- total strangers- coming to help from thousands of miles away. I thought the ceremony was nice. As a side note, it was attended by 7 National Policemen and 7 Philippines Army soldiers, all bearing their weapons. I guess if the NPA rebels wanted to attack now would be a great time because the mayor was out.
Later we went to an orphanage where a girl I interviewed gave me the saddest tale I've heard this trip. I was interviewing her and crying at the same time. She saw her father getting hit and killed in the avalanche. She heard her mother and sister’s cries from the house, but never saw them again. I still tear up when I think about her.
It’s a little slow at the clinic due to it being Sunday, church day, so a few of us walked 3 minutes away to the village market. It was interesting, particularly the bootleg music CDs of American music.
In the afternoon we shot a story about the AMM’s mental health team helping victims deal with PTSD.
Tonight, the Mayor of St Bernard threw AMM a farewell dinner. It was lavish, with a roasted whole pig. Everyone’s so tired by the end of the day- and the fatigue is cumulative. Each night we’re more and more tired.
Anyhow, one of the people, David, was really tired and about to leave early. He got up to walk back to where he’s sleeping (in the evacuation center) which is a couple blocks away. One of the locals, Rachel, looked alarmed and advised him to taxi back. I asked what the problem is, expecting to hear about crime and muggings – you know, things that could be a problem in America. Instead, she said, “There’s rumors the rebels are living in back of the cemetery,” which is along the way to David’s destination. So, the rebels are potentially a block away from us this whole time? Nice.