Our volunteer medical team is currently on the plane to the Philippines as I write this. They will land in Manila in about 30 minutes, which will be Saturday morning for them, and from there they will grab a flight to Kalibo then take a hired bus to Roxas City. It has taken us almost an entire year to get to this moment and we could not have done it without our donors and volunteers as well as the dedication of our Board of Directors. It is a privilege everyday to work with such compassionate people.
Why does it take a year to plan our medical mission? Well, it all starts with identifying a city and determining if there is a need as well as if there is a community that will support our mission. In order for us to be successful we need to have the local government and a hospital partnering with us. We utilize the local Rotary Club as our main way to connect with these important organizations. The Rotary Club is a key component to our mission and we are grateful for their support year from year. Once we have those all confirmed then it is time to start putting the team together.
We start recruiting volunteers about 8-10 months out. Our team is made up of medical professionals and non-medical professionals. We work so far in advance for two reasons. The first reason is that this is a big commitment for a volunteer and we want to give them enough time to adequately plan on taking time off and/or raise the necessary funds to participate. All of our volunteers cover the cost of their flight and lodging. The second reason is that it takes almost 6 months to get our medical volunteers licensed to practice in the Philippines. We work directly with the Philippines Medical Association in making sure that all of our medical volunteers are properly licensed.
Once we have decided on the team we start booking flights, making arrangements for lodging, meals and transportation. We also begin ordering the necessary supplies, updating equipment as needed and preparing the team for the experience they are about to embark on. Throughout all of this we are spreading our message, engaging individual donors, meeting with corporations, planning events and writing grants in order to raise the necessary funds to make this possible. Of course I am giving you the short version of what our year looks like leading up to the day the team flies out but we hope you get the idea.
Over the next week we will share stories and pictures directly from the team. This is where the magic happens; this is what makes all the work we did this last year worth it. We hope our stories inspire you. Some of you might have a hard time seeing the faces of the children before their surgery, others might tear up at the impact we make and many of you will feel a sense of pride and joy that you are a part of this. We truly thank you for supporting us on this journey and thank you for making a real difference in the lives of so many innocent children.