Student Assists Overworked Doctor in the Philippines

Amanda Byrd, a second year student at the Institute for G.O.D. International, has recently returned from her first Immersion experience in the Philippines. Immersions abroad are contained within the Institute curriculum for students to have opportunities to engage in ministry and occupational exploration in the region of the world they feel called to. This was the first of three Immersions Amanda will go on as a student of the Institute. On her trip she explored three areas of potential occupational focus. Below she reflects on her summer and the experience that narrowed those areas into one.

Amanda and South East Asia team member, Leafa Vagatai, spent a full two days with Dr. Merry Chris, shadowing her in her crucial role of providing health care in Daram and the surrounding regions.  

Amanda and South East Asia team member, Leafa Vagatai, spent a full two days with Dr. Merry Chris, shadowing her in her crucial role of providing health care in Daram and the surrounding regions.

 

This summer in the Philippines I had the opportunity to shadow Dr. Merry Chris Venus, a rural health care worker and community organizer on the island of Samar. Dr. Merry Chris is the only doctor serving the municipality of Daram, home to more than 40,000 people. She is responsible for managing health care with her limited staff of nurses and midwives. The opportunity to shadow Dr. Merry Chris was a dream come true for me, as I hope to pursue health care and become a doctor in the Philippines one day myself. I saw firsthand what health care looks like in the Philippines and gained perspective for the kind of work it takes to be a public health worker there.

Residents of the mountain community of Talisay rarely have access to medical check-ups. They have no local doctor in their community and have to walk over an hour down a mountain to access medical care in the nearest barangay.

Residents of the mountain community of Talisay rarely have access to medical check-ups. They have no local doctor in their community and have to walk over an hour down a mountain to access medical care in the nearest barangay.

During my time in Daram, I visited the rural health center where Dr. Merry Chris works. Over the course of two days we distributed vaccinations to children in various communities, met with local government leaders, and even climbed a mountain at sunrise to provide a health seminar and check ups in a rural community. After all that, I got to assist Dr. Merry Chris and one of her midwives transporting a woman in labor from one island to another on a motor boat. I stayed with Dr. Merry Chris at a friend’s home where we shared meals and had good conversations about their experiences as health care workers in the rural communities of Daram.

These experiences were invaluable to my understanding of the health care system in the Philippines. They gave me vision for the kind of health care worker I want to be and the work it will take to get there. Dr. Merry Chris is extremely educated, kind, passionate and works tirelessly to improve the health of the different communities in Daram. She combats many different issues related to poverty that affect the health of these communities, mostly by herself. Watching her work so hard I kept thinking to myself, “Amanda, you can do this.” I can do this, because I have the Lord and his spirit, and a whole team of people ready to help create environments where people can thrive. I am inspired by Dr. Merry Chris and the work that she does, and I’m thankful that I can cling to these memories as I begin the process of studying medicine, and continue to learn the Bible.