We cannot stay at the dump very long as Pascal wants us to see another feeding site that he calls his soup kitchen. It is held in a gymnasium. A gym in the Philippines is not what you think of in America. It is basically a roof over a cement surface with a basketball hoop on both ends.  When we get there the Manna Pack Rice and soup is getting served into bowls for the children.

a child with skinny arms is one indication of malnutrition.

We can see the malnutrition in the skinny arms and legs of the children. Pascal opened this site four months ago. He tells us how thrilled he is. In the past three weeks ago.  At his other sites he has seen some children grow two inches and gain several kilos over five months. He says with an Irish accent, “It’s because of the vit a mins in the Manna Pack Rice!” Weight, height, the circumference of the upper arm, age and gender are all recorded. These are the World Health Organization standards for determining the health of a child.   The children are all preschool age.

From left: Eden Canning, Pascal Canning and two volunteers

Jerry notices the high the level of participation with the volunteers. Mothers, fathers and government leaders are working together to feed the innocent and vulnerable children. The children are very hungry and eat very well.

Now it is off to the local hospital. It is brand new. I am impressed as we drive up. The exterior is like a modern hospital. Pascal says it’s only been open for six months. I am amused when I see the lawnmower that is employed at the hospital.

Public hospital lawn mower. “Will work for food!”

We go up to the 2nd floor to the indigent (extreme poor) ward to find Melissa Flores. She is the mother of the one-year old baby that we learned about in the dumpsite yesterday. She is in a hospital bed with her grandmother and other family members nearby. Her breathing is greatly labored. Her face is swollen. She has pneumonia, asthma and perhaps heart problems. She is receiving a dextrose IV and no medication. Her mother explained at the dump that they want her to pay for the x-ray. But the indigent are not required to pay for x-rays. Pascal and Jerry begin speaking with the head nurse.

18 year old mother, Melissa Flores in the hospital with phenomena, asthma and heart valve complications.

Now you will read about how the poor are so greatly disadvantaged. There are two main issues. One is the x-ray and the other is the medicine. The reason that they want to charge for the x-ray is because the brand new hospital does not have a working x-ray machine. So, they have to refer it to the privately owned x-ray machine operator also located in the hospital. We go to speak with the private x-ray machine operator and find out that it is also not available, because it is out for regular maintenance repairs. After speaking with another doctor, it is decided that she only needs an echo-scan and medicine. Pascal will work at getting the echo-scan done for free with connections he has with his own doctor.

When the prescription is reviewed it is found out that she has only been prescribed one day of medication.   She has not received the medication yet. This is hard to understand because the indigent receive their medication for free. There is even a special pharmacy for them right in the hospital. We go down to the pharmacy to get the prescription filled. We find out that they do not stock that particular anti-biotic because it is special order and expensive. We figure the doctor only prescribed one day because he knew she could not pay for a full prescription.

from left: Melissa’s mother, Melissa’s daughter, Melissa’s sister

I had started feeling sick myself earlier in the day because of mild heat stroke and dehydration when in the garbage dump. So Pascal and Jerry drop me off at the hotel to rest while they drive to another pharmacy. Jerry and Pascal pitch in together to get the antibiotic medication for three days of treatment. It comes up to a whopping $24 to potentially save this 18 year old mothers life – a minuscule amount for an American, but gigantic for a Filipino indigent.

We left Maasin the next day, but Pascal continued to update us on Melissa’s progress. The good news is that the medication that Jerry and Pascal purchased was already helping the poor girl improve. The bad news however is that the echo-scan revealed that she has faulty heart valves. The good news is that the hospital now stocks the expensive antibiotics and it is free for Melissa. The bad news is that she has acute rheumatic heart disease or severe mitral valve stenosis. Our prayers are with Melissa and her daughter.

Child living in the garbage dump peeking out from behind a shanty door

The news angers Jerry. He explains how this might have been preventable with the proper nutrition. This is the insidious cycle of poverty that RSM is trying to help cure. Melissa, when she was still in the womb or as a baby, did not receive the proper nutrition at the crucial time for her heart to properly develop or to fight off disease. These malnourished children grow up with serious unseen defects and eventually have their own children. The health defects begin to show themselves. A mother potentially dies at a young age. Now the baby has no mother. Fathers, also die at a young age because of malnutrition and leave their family without a provider. Poverty breeds poverty. Is there a solution? On Marinduque island, the heart of the Philippines, RSM is achieving spectacular results with a 96% success rate. RSM, through the grace of God is helping to heal a whole island of malnutrition.   Please watch this 4 ½ minute movie called the Marinduque Model. See how a whole island is being cured of malnutrition and is given hope for a future.