Many people have received little or no assistance since the monster storm struck the Philippines one week ago, but, the situation is one that most run away from, local doctors on a global mission from Sarasota based Hearts Afire Incorporated fly into the thick of it to battle the elements, treat the injured and save lives.
Co-Founder of Hearts Afire, John Pecoraro, M.D. and his wife Rhonda of Sarasota, along with two other medical missionaries are on their way to the Philippines. They will meet up with another Suncoast couple who left two years ago to help those in need.
Dr. Pecoraro said, "We are now preparing to depart for Cebu in the Philippines we are doing a medical outreach mission we working with the missionaries John and Sara Jennings who have been there for some time."
"We were planning to go there this summer for a larger mission trip, then this happened" Said Vilma Vega, M.D. another Co-Founder of Hearts Afire and an infectious disease doctor. Thousands of people are confirmed dead, many more are injured. She explained "I leave Tuesday early in the morning, and we fly into Seoul, Korea and onto the Philippines."
This hearts afire mission starts with a twenty seven hour flight. Doctor Vega knows it will be a challenge.
"There's more than twelve thousand people that are missing at the present time and yes, the statistics at this time are that, but there's actually much more that are dead and are underneath the rubble." Said Vega.
Dr. Vega and Hearts Afire will be in the mountains hardest hit by wind and debris once roads are opened, and there are immediate medical challenges
"Wound infections, diarrhea illnesses... and that's why, an infectious disease doctor, I'm needed to educate." She also added that she is concerned of diseases that will come in following weeks, but is compelled to go when help is needed.
"It's so vitally important that as human beings, that we do our best to do in some fashion to help people throughout this world and in major catastrophes; that's when the real humanity comes out."
Hearts Afire Incorporated is a 501 C3 Not-for-Profit, they have taken hundreds of people including physicians, nurses, ministers and others overseas to provide relief to many locations around the world since 2006. To find out how you can help go to the Hearts Afire website.