THEIR spiritual endeavors founded this award-winning medical organization.

In a span of five decades, Medical Missions Inc. (MMI) has been a steadfast Thomasian student organization, serving deprived communities through medical service.

But this year has been most significant to the non-profit organization as it bagged its second Ten Accomplished Youth Organization (TAYO) award, one of the most prestigious commendations ever bestowed to organizations in the country.

Last Feb. 6, MMI, along with nine other youth organizations, received the 2014 TAYO awards by the National Youth Commission. Their entry was last year’s General Santos medical mission, which was in cooperation with General Santos City and General Santos Doctors Hospital Foundation Inc.

MMI takes pride in itself as an outreach group dedicated to the healthcare of communities, mostly those who cannot afford to pay for medical care.

It is not only a group that serves, but also one that teaches, for it also serves as a training ground for future medical practitioners to put their skills to the test.

“What we do basically is we create an avenue for doctors and medical practitioners, and take them to the field where their skills are needed, and there these skills are honed,” said Michael Yoro, third year UST medical student, treasurer of MMI and member for seven years.

Yoro explained that although MMI is an independent organization, it is backed by many members of the UST Medical Alumni, especially in their operations. The group also coordinates with the local community in conducting and ensuring that their operations go as smooth as possible.

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Of bodies and babies

Being a non-profit organization, MMI does not charge for any of their medical services, even for minor or major surgeries. The surgeries range from simple procedures like circumcision to removal of goitre, thyroidectomy treatment, hernia, and others. Everything included in the surgery is also free-of-charge.

“I believe that MMI truly gives effective service to the people because we not only provide short-term solutions for their medical ailments. We help them find a way to become well again,” Yoro said.

“I also think that our spiritual endeavors make our organization a unique one. In everything we do, we instill our Thomasian values and aim not only to heal the body, but also the spirit as well.”

Not the first award

The Ten Outstanding Youth Organizations Awards are a series of commendations for the youth organizations of the country, mostly student groups, who have shown great and significant promise in their service.

Yoro said being a recipient of the TAYO award not only is a great honor to the organization, but it serves as a salute to their efforts.

This was not the first time MMI won such an award. MMI was also the recipient of the TAYO awards in the 8th TAYO Awards “TAYO 8” in 2011.

Their medical operations in General Santos proved very beneficial for the community as 117 doctors, students and a priest, joined together with General Santos Doctors’ Hospital foundation Inc., conducted free surgeries.

Over 2078 patients were treated in the General Santos medical mission.

MMI is also a recipient of the Pope Leo Award from UST in 2004 and the Service Project of the Year Award in 2013.

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'Makiisa sa mahihirap, iwaksi ang korupsiyon' - Tagle

“I guess our greatest achievement that we are most proud of is the fact that we are serving people in the name of God even though it’s difficult because we experience little struggles like lack of equipment and manpower. At the end of the day, it brings much satisfaction to know what all of your hard work goes towards helping your fellow men,” Yoro said.

Compassionate beginnings

MMI traces its roots to one man’s compassion during his trip to Northern Philippines.

Anthony Galleta, then third year medical student, went on a trip to the Mountain Province to see the Rice Terraces in August of 1961. In Kiangan, Ifugao, Galleta was approached by a Belgian missionary, and there asked for his help. Galleta agreed to be of service.

Returning to Manila, he immediately sought the interest of other possible volunteers, doctors and providers to conduct a medical and surgical mission in Kiangan.

Galleta’s efforts were realized and the University established MMI as an independent organization in 1962. A year after that, MMI became a full-fledged organization and was incorporated with the Securities and Exchange Comission.

Contemporarily, the organization is divided into three groups, thus the term “incorporated.” There is the MMI proper composed of medical doctors, affiliates and other critical personnel. MMI proper is the framework of MMI and keeps the three divisions unified.

Second is MMI Student groups, with medical students as members. Lastly, MMI Nursing is composed of nursing students.

Yoro said MMI’s operations are backed by the interested alumni of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery and local partners who would donate to their location operations.

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Lifespan

Yoro added that the one of the challenges that MMI is facing is keeping the interest of its partners in donating.

“Our local partners are as important as our backers because they set the ground for us to work in. In some cases, they convert usable buildings and locations for us to use fully, like in General Santos, wherein we ‘rented’ a building for the conduction of the mission.” Alfredo N. Mendoza V and V, Catalina Ricci S. Madarang

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