By: Angelita de Guzman Kowalewsky
(click photo to enlarge)
COMPASSION, yes, it was compassion for the sick, the helpless and the vulnerable, that made all of these happen. Sta. Remedios is a small village located in the town of Bulan, Sorsogon, the southern province of Luzon islands in the Philippines. This is the village where I grew up and saw the existing poverty that affects so many lives. It is COMPASSION for the people that drove me to help and make a difference in the lives of the sick and vulnerable, the hungry, the poor children who need education and food. And because of COMPASSION, and through hard work, sacrifice and strong belief that it can be done, Sta. Remedios Charity Clinic was founded. And this is …
HOW IT ALL BEGAN…
My name is Angelita de Guzman Kowalewsky and I have been a registered nurse for twenty five years. Three years ago, I went home to see my ailing mother confined in the local hospital. I brought with me precious medicines, antibiotics that were desperately needed. I went straight to the hospital from Ninoy Aquino International Airport which took fourteen hours by bus. I found my mother feeling better and getting ready to go home. While I was waiting for her, I had the chance to look around. I saw poor emaciated patients with sad look in their eyes, waiting for the family to bring back the much needed medicines from outside pharmacy. Apparently, the system in the hospital is for the physician to asses the condition of the patient, write prescription, and ask the family to buy the necessary medicine and medical supplies like IV tubing, IV fluids, etc. If the family has no money to buy the prescribed medicine and supplies, the patient will have to go home. I noticed some old gloves hanging by the window sill. The nurse told me that they had to wash the used gloves so that they can reuse it. I left the hospital with a heavy heart and feeling helpless. I wished I could do something to alleviate the suffering of those patients. I know in my heart that if they do not get the much needed medicine, they will die one by one.
While I was at home, I noticed one of the carpenters looking very sad. My sister told me that the carpenter’s son, Aldo, and eighteen year old boy, was dying. He had an infected abscess at the right side of his back as big as a grapefruit. Apparently, out of desperation, the parents sold their only carabao (the animal which the family uses for plowing the field) and a pig to take their son to the provincial hospital. When the family could no longer afford the cost of the hospitalization and medicine, they brought him back home to die or wait for a miracle to happen. I asked the carpenter to take me to his house to see the boy. He was very emaciated and barely able to raise his hand to greet me. He was lying on a makeshift bamboo bed. He weighed between 85 to 90 lbs. I offered my help to the family. I told them that I brought with me the best antibiotics and medicines from America which my mother did not use. They brought Aldo to my house in a hammock. I called the local physician in town to help me. We started him an intravenous hydration, gave him antibiotics, multivitamins and nutritious food. After two days of treatment, Aldo was able to sit up and walk with the help of his mother. On the tenth day, he was well enough to go home. His abscess was completely healed except for a little hole where the pus material drained out. I gave him a three month supply of multivitamins. His parents were crying and very grateful. I told them to thank the Lord for I was just His instrument. My mother got well without using the medicines. Those medicines were actually intended for their son so that he may live. God had answered their prayer for a miracle.
The story of Aldo spread around like a wildfire in the village. People various ailments started to come to my house. The cases ranged from simple headaches to urinary tract infection, influenza, to children with fever and cough. There was this young woman who came to me and was crying. She had been sick for several months. She appeared to have the classic symptoms of UTI. I called the physician whom I befriended when we treated Aldo. She was treated for UTI and instructed to come back after a week. When she returned, her eyes were bright and happy. She is clutching a chicken with her husband behind. She told me that for the first time in months she was not in pain. She had no money but she wanted to give me the chicken as payment. I told her that she didn’t have to give me anything. The fact that she felt better was good enough for me. Her husband was smiling in the background and I knew that chicken (a rooster) was his pet.
These are a few of the examples why I want to build a clinic. It is for the people who need medical help. I promised the people in the village that I would come back and build them a clinic with free medicine and free consultation. I came back to the United States, worked hard, worked extra hours, saved money and prayed to God to help and guide me for the task that I was about to embark on was a tremendously great task.
May 25, 2005, the grand opening of:
STA. REMEDIOS CHARITY MEDICAL CLINIC
This charity clinic is dedicated to the people of Sta. Remedios Village especially those who cannot afford basic medical services so that the poorest man, woman and child can get the care they need. The clinic has a consultation room, a holding bed, 2 medicine cabinets, thermometer, and sphygmomanometer. It is a multipurpose clinic. It provides free medical check-ups, free medicine, milk for the children, nutritional supplements for the very old and malnourished, and education on sanitation, diabetes, environmental protection, ecology, and pregnancy and infant care. It also serves as a children’s library after clinic hours. The clinic is staffed by one physician and four helpers. Word spread that there is a clinic where poor people can avail of free medical check-up and treatment.
Here are some photos of the Clinic:
The following were some 0f the medical cases we have already encountered:
1. A man with a large cut on his leg- We did not have sutures so we had to send him to the provincial hospital which was a three-hour ride by tricycle.
2. A patient with pneumonia.
3. Several diabetic patients with problems of hypertension and hyperglycemia, renal failure, edema.
4. A five year old girl carried by her mother to the clinic (see picture in the brochure) She was severely malnourished and at risk of dying.
5. Several malnourished elderly patients suffering from abdominal pain (most probably from gastric ulcer) need nutritional supplements like Ensure plus, etc.
6. Several cases of influenza, gastroenteritis, typhoid, dengue, anemia
We are now serving many villages, patients from as far as the Island of Masbate which is across the San Juanico Strait. Very sick people accompanied by their families are crossing the sea by motorized canoe to seek medical help. This is the situation. We are running out of medicine and medical supplies. I had been supporting this clinic for over four years now. I need your help desperately. Please help save one more life. Let us all get together and continue these humanitarian services.
We need the following:
1. Over the counter medicines for cough, fever, pain, gastric ulcer, headache, hypertension, etc. We accept any medicine you can give.
2. Medicine samples: Don’t throw it away. We can use it.
3. Canned foods for malnourished old people and powdered milk for the children or anything you can give is very well appreciated
4. Multivitamins for children/infant, prenatal vitamins for women, vitamin supplements for men, women. Vit.b-12, B-6, Iron supplement, Vit. C, etc.
5. We need disposable thermometer to prevent cross-infection, Sphygmomanometer(blood pressure apparatus)
6. Old or new EKG machine and supplies
7. Surgical instruments for simple surgical procedures, sutures, scalpels lidocaine 1% or 2%
8. Infant warmer for newly born, forceps, stainless steel basins for durability
9. Medical supplies
Thank you very much for any help you can give. Every donation you give counts. All donations are tax deductible.
Photos by jun and mila asuncion April 29, 2009
On this day we went to Sta. Remedios to visit the Clinic founded by Angelita de Guzman Kowalevsky. We have been wanting to see this Clinic for quite a time already and so we made use of this opportunity last month when we went home.
But when we came it was off the clinic hours so we haven’t seen any patient and medical workers but we were greeted by Angelita’s niece who toured us around the clinic.
The Clinic is small but it symbolizes something very big which is the love for one’s own people and the hope for brighter Bulan’s future. Love moves each of us to sacrifice ourselves to help improve the situation; in the case of Angelita she used her profession to give something back to her humble beginning.
The hope lies in reaching out other people who would offer their help to the Sta. Remedios Charity Medical Clinic in any form- for any help counts, as Angelita says.
For now Bulan Observer helps spread this hope to all its readers from many different places. May we indeed get some positive reactions from the people and other institutions who are in a better situation to help what has been started.
We thank Angelita for her great efforts in realizing her vision to help. It is now for all of us to help her keep this vision alive.
For A Brighter Bulan!