By JASON CORDI

A successful surgical mission was conducted by Melbourne-based charity organisation Share Me A Dream Australia in the remote island province of Tawi-Tawi between 6 and 9 June 2019.

The mission was organised and facilitated in partnership with Maharlika Charity Foundation Inc in Davao (spearheaded by Dr. Benedict Valdez and Dr. Rizal Aportadera); the SPMC Southern Philippines Medical Centre; Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) in Bongao Tawi-Tawi; and with the gracious support of the local host, Dr Sangkula Laja, head of the Datu Halun Sakilan Memorial Hospital.

The Philippine Air Force C295 plane, with pilots Major Michael Marlvin Manas and 1Lt Nathaniel Factor and their four engineers, were deployed for the two-hour return journey from Davao City to Tawi-Tawi to assist with the complex logistics of the transport of several tonnes of medical supplies and equipment for the mission.

Marines from the Armed Forces of the Philippines provided safety to the 45 courageous volunteers which included mostly nurses, a pharmacist, president of Share Me A Dream Australia, and of course the 18 talented doctors and their staff. The marines were required to escort the volunteers throughout the duration of their mission in the province.

Support was also provided from the Municipality of Bongao, as well as the regional government Bangsamoro Transition Authority, particularly with the consistent presence of the Honorable Eddie Alih of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

A total of 812 people were screened, with 729 operated on, while the remainder were referred to Zamboanga where they would receive their required specialised treatment free of charge. Patients of all ages (from 8 months old to the elderly) were operated on which included: Dental – 583, Cysts – 108, Thyroid – 6, Hernia – 13, Cleft – 10, Haemorrhoid – 1, CS – 1, Salpingectomy – 1, Debridement and suturing – 1, Explap – 1, Removal of foreign body – 1, Pressure ulcer – 1, Chole -1 and NSVD – 1.

The president of Share Me A Dream Australia, Terry Kane, who was present during the mission in this deeply underprivileged area in the Philippines, witnessed firsthand the hard work involved and fantastic volunteer medical staff’s commitment to the mission.

The experience of having the marines present made this mission different from others conducted in the past. Kane states that this was indeed an achievement, while she extends a deep gratitude to those who supported and attended the Rio Charity Ball 2019 in March, for it is those sponsors and guests who helped make this mission possible.

Share Me A Dream Australia’s next fundraising event is the International Charity Ball celebrating Culture and Diversity on 5 October 2019. Proceeds will be allocated to a planned two-day surgical mission in Camiguin; Cataract Operations in Kidapawan, Cotabato; and Christmas Gift Giving. 

Attendees and sponsors from the community are once again invited to come along for a fun night out to support Share Me A Dream›s longstanding mission of helping those in need. Visit www.sharemeadream.com for more details.

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