Poor people in Southeast Asia can be a bit cynical about outsiders who come to help them.
The poor in an undisclosed town on the Philippines’ Island of Mindanao have seen foreign aid organizations arrive, take their photos, make promises of assistance and never return.
“People here and in some adjoining communities have a wait-and-see attitude about promises hurled their way by so-called aid organizations,” the director of a ministry based in the Philippines said. “They have been taken for a ride before; hence their stance of arms akimbo and, ‘Let’s see if this is true’ thinking has become the common reaction to things that seem too good to be true.”
Natives from one impoverished community were skeptical, then, when native missionaries from neighboring villages showed up offering free medical consultations, treatment and medicines. The missionaries told them they would return in two or three weeks.
Villagers waited, having no resources to treat their ills: first-degree burns, pneumonia, acute upper respiratory tract infections, acute bronchitis, dermatitis, dyspepsia, various stages of hypertension, acid peptic disease, tuberculosis, T/C pyelonephritis, urinary tract infection and other sicknesses and diseases.
Within a month, an indigene from an equally remote mountain village showed up.
“He was attired in a traditional manner,” the ministry director said of the native missionary leading the team. “With blackened teeth strengthened by chewing betel nut, he smiled and disclosed that he came all the way from a tribal village together with his wife, children and grandchildren.”
He told them medical help was on its way, and soon a convoy of six vehicles arrived. Villagers watched as team members disembarked with boxes of medicines, weighing scales and other medical equipment, chairs and tables. Village youth rushed to help them arrange the paraphernalia, tables and chairs. In swift order, medical doctors were waiting for patients.
“Gradually, some other patients came in, a trickle at first, passing through areas for weighing and blood pressure checks, then on to the witnessing crew who shared the Gospel, and then on to the waiting doctors until they were given prescriptions, then the medicines were given to them at the pharmacy,” the director said.
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SOURCE: Christian Aid Mission