A trio of Maitland area women who have just returned from a medical mission to The Philippines, said their experience has been both humbling and life changing.
Heidi Avery, Sonya Mervin and Dr Armi Aganan joined the Philippine Australian Medical Association for the two-week experience which saw locals given medical and dental aid.
The Philippine Australian Medical Association is a non-profit organization established in 1992 with the primary aim of assisting Filipino Doctors to obtain their medical license to practice their profession in Australia.
It is also committed to providing charitable activities and humanitarian aid in the Philippines. Since 2008, PAMA has had annual medical missions in remote locations in the Philippines which are still ongoing.
The Maitland women were accompanied by other medical professionals from Sydney.
"We went to San Narciso for our first three-day mission then to Munoz Nueva Ecija for our second two-day mission," said Heidi.
"We worked mostly on minor operating procedures," she said.
"They were long days - some 12 hours but it was so rewarding and the people we treated were so grateful," Heidi said.
"It was really a life changing event and made me feel lucky knowing what we have here in terms of health. In the Philippines they have very little in terms of health care but they don't whinge, they don't complain and were happy waiting sometimes for hours before they were treated."
With no or limited access to healthcare, Heidi said some patients had lived with their conditions all their lives - others for years on end.
Sonya said she brought a lot home from the trip. "For me who has never been anywhere other than NZ, it was an amazing experience to see a third world country and how they live," she said.
"The most amazing thing for me was to see how resilient they are. They are the most loving, generous and happy people I have meet and at times I was amazed at how tough they are."
Heidi said after working in primary health care for 20 years it was such a wonderful experience to be able to help the less fortunate. "We both feel very honoured and privileged to have been on this mission. The feeling of helping these people in some small way was amazing," the women said.