Bugko, December 2022
Dear members, dear friends and sponsors of Mabuhay!
On August 9th we were safely back in Bugko and there was a lot to organize immediately since we were expecting our dentists. On August 15, Paula Damrow and Camilla Lüdecke from the University of Leipzig and Maimouna Diouf and Meike Stoltz from the University of Münster arrived. They had just successfully passed their exams and now wanted to gain more practical experience. Unfortunately, after the long break, there were a few problems to be solved. The dental units had to be checked more often by the technician because there were always malfunctions. Once the air didn't work, then no water came or the drill didn't turn. Luckily, a number of patients could be treated, but unfortunately the condition of some of their teeth was really frightening. Due to the pandemic, no dental treatments were carried out, not only here, but throughout Northern Samar.
We were glad that this dental team was followed by another team so that the dental treatments could be continued. On September 13, Natalie Haußmann, Corinna Frech and Markus Sommerhäuser from the University of Ulm came to see us. Accompanied by Dr. Gerhart Heinze, also from Ulm. Dr Heinze, with his many years of experience, helped the young colleagues where necessary, gave tips and advice, so that the four weeks were a very fruitful time for everyone and the younger dentists were able to return home with more experience. The patients felt that they were in good hands and sent even more family members for dental treatment.
ardSurprisingly, on October 6th, Dr. Angel Wright and Dr. David Hudson from ISM (International Surgical Mission) from Colorado came to us. They came for just two days to make preparations for the mission planned for February. For the past few years, operations have always been conducted in Biri, an offshore island of North Samar, but for whatever reason, they have been informed that this is not possible in 2023. All equipment and materials had to be taken to temporary storage and a new place for operations found. A hard task. They were able to settle it, but with sad eyes, as Biri was firmly linked to ISM and the mission of providing free surgeries to the poorest. The outpatient procedures will again be carried out in Bugko and Dr. Hudson was glad to see our station for the first time. Our surgeon Dr. Rio will also be supporting the ISM team in February and our patient requests for surgery are increasing. Above all, patients with thyroid diseases, fibroids and hernias are listed. ISM is happy to take our patients because they are well prepared with a laboratory and, if necessary, X-rays and ultrasound.
On October 14th, Pia Becker and Annika Wiesner came to stay with us for a month. Unfortunately, they arrived ill, so they couldn't start straight away. We ran several dental missions to invite more patients. In addition, the two went to the local elementary school to teach the students in the first to sixth grades basic knowledge about good dental and oral hygiene. Many children were already familiar with this from the fluoride program, but it is always good to repeat these instructions, as the dental status of many has been badly damaged after the pandemic. Unfortunately, the teeth are still not the main concern of the population, so that a lot of basic work is still needed to strengthen the population's awareness of dental and oral hygiene.
Dr Annika Kraus (University of Mainz) and Dr. Lena Bürkle (Zurich) followed on November 15th. Both had many years of experience in dental treatment for young and old and have often been deployed abroad, such as Peru and Nepal. After a slow start, the dental station filled up more and more from day to day and in the end we were no longer able to accept all patients because there were too many. The patients were queuing! The excellent treatment by the two dentists got around quickly and the patients came from all over the province. Unfortunately, the two could only stay with us for 2 weeks because work called at home. We very much hope that there will be a second mission in the future.
As you can see, the second half of the year was characterized by visits from dentists. In addition, there was the good news that the German Dentists' Aid Organization financed a new dental unit for us. Dr Winter from the relief organization was immediately willing to fulfill our wish, as the old treatment unit was no longer fully usable and spare parts were difficult to obtain after 14 years. At the time you have this letter in your hands, we were still waiting for the delivery, as there are delivery delays after the pandemic. You will see it in the next newsletter. Our nutrition program for the children continued. This has been an important concern for us for years and due to the sharp rise in food prices, the parents are happy that we can keep the program going with the help of the German Club in Manila. We always have around 75 children in the program who meet in small groups to eat. Attached to this program is a hygiene program in which the children learn basic hygiene and dental care. The highlight is always the end of the course when the children receive their certificate of participation.
The farm helped us a little with the already mentioned high food prices. To give just one example: 1 kg of red onions costs €5. The harvest was good again this year and we were able to harvest fruit and vegetables as well as eggs.
The senior program has been intensified and events are now held regularly. The most popular are cooking, bingo and morning Zumba. Caritas and Cose come regularly and help the young management team with their work and also carry out training courses for them. We hope to be able to offer lunch next year for everyone who is alone at home.
During my time in Germany, some of our volunteers went to Crystal Mountain to bring some Christmas cheer to the people living there. Crystal Mountain is Mondragon's most remote village, situated on top of a mountain, and can only be reached on foot (3 hours uphill). Due to the heavy rainfall and the last typhoon, the paths were muddy and very slippery. Nevertheless, the volunteers went out and brought vitamins, clothes, toys for the children and slippers. The joy was huge and so the arduous ascent was worth it.
Once again it's time to say THANK YOU for your continued support of our Bugko station, without which it would not be possible to keep it going. Thank you also for the many inquiries regarding donations in kind, which I keep getting, so that only what is really needed is sent. In this context, we would also like to thank Franz Meyer, who has glued hundreds of packages over the years and packed them with his wife Margaret. Nothing was ever lost and the boxes always arrived in excellent condition after the long journey from Bonn to Bugko. For health reasons, he had to give up this job and also resign from his job as treasurer. We are looking positively into the year 2023, as there are many inquiries from dentists and doctors and we hope that the clinic, after the difficult years caused by the pandemic, will run again as before and that we will offer professional help to the many patients who are looking for help can give.
So we wish you a blessed and happy Christmas!
Your grateful Sabine Korth
Malipayon nga Pasko (Merry Christmas) from Bugko!
Bugko, August 2022
Dear members, dear friends and sponsors of Mabuhay!
The month of April started well. On April 8th, Dr. Annika Rudzio from Solingen came to us. She was the first doctor to travel all the way to help patients here in North Samar since the pandemic. In Germany, she works in a group practice in Bad Honnef with other doctors, here she was on her own. She was confronted with many very ill patients and was particularly frightened by the large number of tuberculosis patients with advanced disease. There were also many patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, pain, etc. and of course children. As a general practitioner, she was in the right place. The patients were happy that the ECGs were read directly and a few patients could also be helped with acupuncture.
In addition to working in the clinic, Dr. Rudzio also assisted the Filipino doctor in the operating room. One of the highlights of her stay was our relief effort in Baybay/ Leyte. There, several villages were buried by landslides caused by Typhoon Agaton (international name Megi) on April 10th due to continuous, very heavy rainfall. The survivors were housed in shelters and schools. In addition to the dead, there were also many injured and missing. We spontaneously decided to bring help. We packed food, medicine, clothes and toiletries and set off in two cars. The journey took almost 10 hours, as we had to take many detours, as some of the roads in Leyte were not yet passable. When we arrived in the late afternoon we could already see the extent of this new catastrophe. An entire village was wiped out by one of the landslides, we were told, as residents took refuge in the evacuation center and it was buried in the mud. A major problem was the water supply in the city of Baybay. So the hotels were closed, but the Franciscan Sisters in Baybay, whose mother house is in Olpe, took us and our volunteers in. We had two busy days and saw much need. Luckily we had Dr. Rudzio, so that many patients could be treated. Our volunteers also made bandages and distributed relief supplies. In addition to our help, there was also a lot of local help and the police and military organized everything to run smoothly. As we drove there were still many persons missing as it was difficult to recover the victims in the affected areas. The drinking water was delivered in large trucks and people filled it in containers. The sisters had their own spring, so they were not affected by the water problem. Water from their spring was also bottled and some of the sisters brought soup to the evacuees in the nearby shelter every morning.
On April 19th arrived Andreas Scholz, a friend of Dr. Rudzio, to help too. Being part of the professional fire brigade, he couldn't do much in the clinic operation, but he helped with the office that was under construction for the senior center. He also gave a first aid course to our volunteers and those responsible at the senior center and explained the AED, a resuscitation device that he had brought with him. Such a seminar has been in the planning for a long time and we were very grateful to Mr. Scholz that he carried out the training with many practical exercises. Our volunteers were all present and actively involved.
Dr. Rudzio and Mr. Scholz left us on May 7th. May 9th was election day in the Philippines. The president, vice president, senators, governors and mayors were elected. In more than 37,000 voting centers, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., 46,193 candidates could be chosen from the 18,100 available. 65.7 million Filipinos were eligible to vote. I'm just writing these numbers to give you a vague idea how elcetions work here in the Philippines. In the end, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the former dictator, won. Vice President became the daughter of the current President. It remains to be seen how things will continue here politically and economically.
On June 4th we completed our extension to the senior center. The extension had become necessary because we have had a large senior program since January in cooperation with Caritas Germany, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and COSE (Coalation of Services of the Elderly, Inc.) based in Manila. It is the first project of this kind in the Philippines. It is financed by the BMZ and Caritas in Germany until the end of 2023. It aims to help seniors (in the Philippines you are a senior from the age of 60) to maintain their mental and physical health for as long as possible. I mentioned it in my last newsletter. There are daily offers in the senior center, such as Zumba, cooking, gardening, film afternoons, lectures, singing and dancing and games. The seniors choose what they want to participate in. There is now also a counseling center for seniors where they can find out about their pension and rights. We added an office, a bakery and a storage room. To our great delight, we received a large "furnishings donation" because Malteser International closed its office in Catarman and used us as beneficiaries.
On June 7th, representatives from Caritas Germany, Caritas Germany (Cebu), COSE (Manila), a senior worker from Korea and a Caritas employee from Nepal visited our pilot program. An international group wanted to see how the first months in the new project went by and also gave us good new ideas.
In addition, the clinic is in full swing. Patients are coming from everywhere again as all travel restrictions have been lifted. North Samar is still classified as level 2, but that has to do with the vaccination rate in the population. Unfortunately, there are still many unvaccinated people and it is very difficult to convince them, especially since no Covid disease has been registered in the province for weeks. We are now working with several doctors, which is a great support, as we treat many patients every day. Dra. Tirazona is a general practitioner and comes three days a week, Dra. Merino is a pediatrician and comes once and Dra. Balayanto is our surgeon, but she also does examinations when none of the other doctors are there. In addition, our longtime doctor Dra. Quilatan.
The full waiting area speaks for itself and once a week we have 5-6 outpatient surgeries.
On June 25th we made our way to Germany because our general meeting was coming up. We were happy to see many of you again. A new treasurer was elected, otherwise the board was confirmed for the time being. Due to Corona, contacts were severely restricted and so not as many guests and supporters could come as in the years before Corona. The safety of everyone always comes first and so for the first time my parents were not able to attend the meeting.
And the good news at the end: From August 15th, the dental station will be occupied again. Four young dentists are coming and we are very happy. Patients came every day asking about dental treatment and so we can help them again. We already have confirmations until the end of November, so I think that a large number of patients can be treated. I'll report that in the next newsletter. Now I wish you all a nice rest of the summer, everyone stay healthy and we hope to see you again in December for our annual general meeting.
Newsletter 1-2022 Bugko, April 2022
Dear members, dear friends and sponsors of Mabuhay!
In December 2021 I traveled to Germany, despite the tense Corona situation. It was good to meet some friends and my family again. Unfortunately, the incidence values did not allow a meeting like we had in previous years and I was not able to report in detail. That's a pity, but everyone's safety is more important!
During my time in Germany, Super Typhoon Odette (international name Rai) hit the Philippines on December 16, 2021. With almost 200k m/h windspeed and heavy rain, it left a trail of devastation in Southern Leyte, Cebu and Bohol. Over two million people lost everything again without a roof over their heads, without water and food and they experienced a terrible Christmas. In addition houses, shops, gas stations and churches were destroyed. Even ships, cars, cargo containers, and small planes were thrown through the air by the force of the typhoon. The typhoon had the same strength as Haiyan in Tacloban in 2013 and many of you will still remember the pictures on TV. Thank god there was no storm surge this time, so there weren't as many dead people as then, but almost 400 lost their lives anyway. 4 weeks later there was still no electricity in the affected areas and what was almost worse, only limited drinking water. Aid immediately started nationally and internationally, so it seemed that lessons had been learned from the past. The pictures are from the internet, since I was already in Germany at the time.
I received many inquiries about the situation in Bugko. Luckily, or thank God, we were spared there and only for 4 days there was no electricity, just a lot of wind and even more rain, no major damage. There were also floods in places in northern Samar, but the great catastrophe in our region did not happen.
On my return to the Philippines I had to go into quarantine again, but this time only for 5 days. Since I knew what to expect, it wasn't that bad.
On January 20th we had a belated Christmas party for our children in the nutrition program. The Siemens employees had collected books, toys, coloring books, soft toys, etc. and wanted to give them to our children for Christmas. Due to delays in transport, it was January, but the children were equally happy. Sr. Veronica did the same for the children in Bugko who live near the cemetery in December with the toys that you keep sending. In this way, we can also make the children happy at Christmas.
We just made it, because on January 21st North Samar was placed under Alert Level 4 until January 31st due to rapidly increasing corona numbers. That brought with it curfews,
restrictions, etc. again. We thought the situation would improve with the big vaccination campaigns, but that wasn't the case at first. There is still a lot of uncertainty
among the population about vaccination against Corona. In the provincial hospital, 8 doctors tested positive for Covid-19, which meant that the outpatient clinic in the
hospital was closed. And more patients came to us for help. Our doctors at the clinic had their hands full. A lot of educational work has also been done to motivate patients
to get vaccinated.
As mentioned in the last letter, we were at the DOH (national health authority) at the end of 2021. In order to follow the DOH's templates, we had to make another structural change to our diagnostics building. We added a toilet and a changing room, which fortunately went without major problems.
And there is also a room for waste separation and cleaning products.
At the end of January, the good news came that the strict requirements regarding the entry of foreigners will be lifted from February 11th. The quarantine is long gone
and vaccinated people only had to prove a negative PCR test shortly before the flight. At the same time, the alert level changed again.
The war between Russia and Ukraine affected us greatly. The countries have been fighting each other since February 26, and here too, far away, we can watch it on television. The great support for Ukraine from all over the world is impressive and you can see that the leaders of the states stand together when it comes to this. We can also feel the effects of the war here in the rising prices. Not only fuel has become much more expensive, but also consumables,
since everything has to be transported. At the same time, the number of patients fell, since transport to here from the various villages has also become more expensive.
Another piece of good news is that since March 17, the number of infections in North Samar has dropped to zero. The DOH states 0.00% in our province and that gives us hope. No one knows whether it's true, since there are elections here in May and the candidates want to visit their voters.
Since it was now possible, the first thing we did was invite our children to the fluoride prophylaxis program. We started this program years ago with the support of the Aid Organization of German Dentists and have continued to do so. Only the corona restrictions brought it to a standstill. Now we could start again.
Unfortunately, there is still no dentist in sight who can continue on the urgently needed dental treatments. The demand is huge and it also hurts a little that our
excellent dental station has been out of use for such a long time.
The doctor who performs the outpatient surgeries now comes every Friday. She operates on cysts, lipomas, fibroadenomas in the breast, etc. There is a long waiting list because we have not been able to offer outpatient surgeries for almost 2 years due to the corona restrictions.
We now have 100 children in the nutrition program, as it is very difficult for the families at the moment to ensure a balanced diet for the children due to the increased prices. We are glad that the German Club in Manila continues to support us in this matter.
The seniors program in cooperation with Caritas Germany and COSE (a seniors organization in Manila) was officially opened on March 16th, attended by representatives from Caritas Germany, COSE, the province and the city. The seniors had put together a small program. Events such as Zumba, cooking together, games, lectures and even gardening are now taking place every day in the senior day care center. The seniors can contribute according to their own interests and abilities. We were able to get Michelle Moreno, the daughter of one of our volunteers, to organize and coordinate the program and with a small team under the guidance of COSE, she started making the senior day care center a focal point for our seniors in the village. In the future there will be more programs for the seniors, but we decided to do it in smaller steps because this program is unique in North Samar so far and we are still working on what would be good for the seniors to keep them active for as long as possible. Two nurses also come to the center once a week to measure blood pressure, blood sugar levels and to record the complaints of the elderly and, if necessary, to send them to the clinic for further examination.
On March 21st we celebrated our 15th anniversary in the clinic. With our pioneer volunteers, six volunteers have been with us since the beginning and our loyal doctor Dra. Quilatan. Now 82 years old, she still comes once a week to see patients.
On March 28, Dra. Amalia Tirazona came to us. She has previously worked in Catbalogan as a general practitioner and now comes to us for three days per week.
There are exciting months behind us, as you can see from the length of the report, and so I thank you for your various help and youare thinking of us.
And now one last request, it would be nice if some of you who have received my newsletter by post now have an e-mail address, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. It saves a lot of work, paper and postage if we can send the newsletter by e-mail. Thanks in advance to everyone who can support us in this matter. Everyone else will of course continue to receive it.
And so I greet you with warm solidarity and wish everyone a blessed Lent and Happy Easter despite Corona and the war in Ukraine.
Salamat (thanks) from Bugko!