Thursday, November 15
I put in an order to Glaxo for Hepatitis A vaccine and antibiotics. I paid for them personally – no time to raise funds here. Vaccines take two weeks to work, so vaccinations need to be done now.
Unbelievably, even though I have been a customer for over 20 years, paying around half a million dollars for medications to be given to charity, their Zeleug distributor told us ”they were too busy stocktaking and the warehouse was closed”. Mike Saunders, my practice manager, took over. After lengthy discussions there was a promise of Saturday morning delivery to my office.
The rest of the day was spent preparing dressings, creams, eye drops, and other aid.
Endless Philippine department of health drug import and ”Deed of Donation” forms are filled out by my nurse and Mike.
No air space permission was forthcoming and vague promises of seats on a US military C109 from Manila to Tacloban.
We paid for tickets to fly at 830am Sunday to Manila.
Friday, November 16
The distributor tells us they don’t want to deliver the required antibiotics. Stocktaking again reared its ugly head. I was beginning to feel like a Greek hero who had to overcome one battle after the other. I can’t believe it – this is my business and the only thing I can be really confident of, and it’s proving the hardest. However, others came to my aid. A local medical practice donated them to us on Friday afternoon. We plan for eight people to be in the practice Saturday morning to take vaccines out of boxes and put in the fridge overnight. Then Nick and Mike would be in the office at 5am Sunday to repack them with cold blocks and meet me at the airport.
Saturday, November 17
We all wait, and wait all day. No one anywhere available on the phone. Everyone is panicked, however there’s nothing I can do aside from being calm, and praying. At 5 pm I get a call. Apologies… and the vaccines are delivered at 7pm, when there are only three of us left in the office. Saturday night plans change quickly for my staff and friends.
CLICK HERE to see a short film I made while on the ground in the Philippines