Gift of Hope
By Lyra Torres
Earlier this year, a 10 person medical mission team from non-profit organization Gateway International Fellowship of Toronto (GIFT) travelled to the Philippines to deliver medical and dental aid to the victims devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. The team went to Bingawan and Banate Iloilo, Tapaz and Cuartero, Capiz.
The mission was from January 26 to February 6, 2014 with the team led by Mr. Rick Falco from Mississauga, Ontario. The first two days, the team went to the municipality of Bingawan in the province of Iloilo. “GIFT is the first and only non-profit organization that helped our town since the typhoon hit the province,” says Mayor Matt Palabrica of Bingawan. Mary Davis a volunteer nurse from Niagara Falls was in charge of sterilization with the assistance of 12 local volunteer doctors and dentists. The team served 1,121 patients in the town of Bingawan.
On the third day, the 20 member team had set-up in the partly destroyed gymnasium of Barangay Candelaria National High School in Tapaz, Capiz for two days. The team were hosted by Exmundo and Palomar families. Volunteer Registered Nurses JJ Kreena Demigillo from Guelph and Agnes Agbayari of Toronto, Ontario together with local nurses were in charge of the Nursing Station. They took blood pressure and sugar levels of patients. The next day, they moved to barangay Camburanan in Tapaz, Capiz and helped 1,359 patients.
The following week at Banate, Iloilo they helped 527 patients and 282 patients in Barangay Maindang. In the town proper of Cuartero, Capiz there were 484 patients that were serviced. The mission team was able to help 3,773 medical and dental patients in total! Free medicine was also prescribed and can be picked up at the ‘botika’ or pharmacy area with the help of Lou Mendoza and Grace Snyder, a nurse volunteer from Hawaii and California respectively.
Some of the associations that greatly helped them with this endeavour: Central Philippine University Alumni Association of Greater Toronto Area led by Ms. Josie Dayao, President. The Capizeno Association of Ontario, led by Rey Mestidio, former President. The Mestidio family were instrumental in helping the team connect with Mayor Tito Mayo of Cuartero, Capiz at a very short notice. This powerful tropical storm that hit the Philippines’ eastern seaboard has left thousands of Filipinos dead. The most important thing that Mr. Falco wants us to know during his time there is to donate. “Donations are needed. A lot of people are badly affected. When you go there, it is reality. Regardless of what you do, you can donate your valuable time, talent and skills aside from the money,” he says.
Josephine Boumatta, the Board Chair of GIFT would like to express her sincere thanks to the following members: Mary Davis, JJ Kreene Demigillo, Agnes Abayari, Belle Tumbokon, Josie Dayao and Rick Falco from Canada, Lou Mendoza and Grace Snyder from USA. “With their unselfish dedication and labour of love, we were able to serve thousands of patients. The GIFT board members owed you all a debt of gratitude,” exclaimed Mrs. Boumatta. It is truly a Gift of HOPE.
You can contact GIFT for more information or should you want to volunteer or donate at (647) 977-4346 or mail at 1711McCowan Road P.O. Box 41581 Scarborough, Ontario Canada M1S 5G8, www.giftcanada.net.