The mission runs for a week in the liberated mountains of Sarangani and West Davao.
The 16th Rosa Mystica medical mission organized by ACIM (Catholic Association of Nurses, Doctors and Health Personnel), will take place from March 5 to 12, 2023 in six villages in the highlands of Alabel and Malapatan, in the province of Sarangani , and those of Malita of Western Davao. These mountains are located east of the large town of General Santos where ACIM maintains a dispensary next to the Rosa Mystica Church served by Fr. Timothy Pfeiffer, chaplain of the mission.
The Rosa Mystica Mission has already taken place several times in this great city and in the surrounding towns and villages. Until the summer of 2022, the surrounding mountainous regions were however inaccessible because they had been in the hands of communists and Islamic terrorists for decades. On September 21, 2022, a pacification treaty was signed between the rebels, who surrendered, and the government.
Yolly, a permanent ACIM nurse and faithful linchpin of the mission for sixteen years, went to visit one of these villages in 1998, as a school nurse, in order to rescue a child who, like all his tribe, was dying of hunger because of a terrible drought and especially the isolation of these areas that the rebels were holding hostage.
She had not been able to return, despite the promise she had made to herself, because of the insecurity that reigned there. On the same trip, Yolly also went to Datal Anggas, another village among the six that the Rosa Mystica Mission will visit, to assess the health situation in schools in the less accessible highlands of the province of Sarangani.
It consisted of a long five-day walk along perilous paths because, twenty-five years ago, there were no roads or public transport to enter these regions cut off from the world. She discovered there a female population suffering from enormous goiters probably linked to an iodine deficiency. It was in this same village that she had witnessed, stunned, the filing of the teeth of women and young girls who then had them covered with gold!
Payment for the “operation” was to be made out of the harvest to come which, given the meager plots, seemed barely enough to feed the population… who also had no money to buy salt to fight this iodine deficiency. Yolly had inquired if there were any Catholics among these inhabitants: she had been told that three or four families probably were. Among them, a polygamous man whom she tried to make understand that it was not compatible with his religion.
Back in General Santos, after a high-risk journey under torrential downpours that caused landslides to open gaping craters in the road, she had hoped for years to be able to return to these poor people in order to bring them the medical care that they had not been able to receive, the light of the faith, and the beauty of Catholic morality.
But when the Rosa Mystica medical missions began in 2007, it was still dangerous to bring foreign volunteers into these mountains riddled with Islamic and communist terrorists. Some government missions have been carried out with these tribes, during a cholera epidemic for example. Goiter operations were performed free of charge.
But this health “attention” scandalized Yolly when she learned that the men of these tribes had been transported by crowded trucks to the municipal health center where she worked, to undergo a vasectomy there for two thousand pesos (about thirty euros)! She tried to make them understand that they were working towards the extinction of their tribe, but they wouldn't listen. The Chinese doctor who operated and the nurses who cooperated were indifferent to Yolly's reproaches.
In 2009, Yolly gave financial support from ACIM to a Catholic doctor from General Santos who went alone to the mountains of Datal Anggas with three coolies to carry the luggage and a horse for the medicine. An exhausting mission. The doctor saw 200 patients a day to whom he gave rosaries and taught them to recite them. In 2018, Yolly offered “pro-life” training to health workers in these mountain areas, to help them understand the sanctity of life.
Access to these villages is now easier. The communist rebel groups have finally surrendered and the safety of the medical volunteers is assured. Some medical infrastructure has been built there, but there are still many very poor people waiting for material and spiritual help.
When at the beginning of 2023, Yolly went to revisit these villages in order to determine the places where the Rosa Mystica Mission would be held, she was surprised by different encounters: a woman recognized her because she had attended the Rosa Mystica Church in General Santos a few years ago! This woman is not yet religiously married and her children are not yet baptized.
She was overwhelmed when she learned that a priest was coming to visit during the March mission. Indeed, the remoteness and poverty did not allow her to make the trip to General Santos to go to Mass and practice her religion (most people in her village are Protestant).
Yolly also saw one of those health workers who had come to the pro-life conference: “Your face is familiar to me. Didn't you teach us why contraception was bad and how to resist depopulation programs?” she asked her. And turning to a member of the tribe, she added: “Look at this woman, she taught us so many important things for our material and moral development.”
Twenty-five years after these expeditions, the promise that Yolly had made to the inhabitants to return with medicines to treat them, will come true. We will try, with the grace of God, during this 16th Rosa Mystica Mission, to respond to their hopes and bring them those “important things” they have been waiting for so long.
We thank all the friends and benefactors of the Rosa Mystica Mission who pray for it so that it bears good fruit, and who allow foreign and Filipino volunteers to come to the aid of these populations long cut off from the world, living without any healthcare and in extreme poverty because of the war that raged there for so many years.
You can make a donation via Paypal on the site: www.rosamystica-mission.com; or by check or bank transfer to: ACIM 2, route d'Equihen F-62360 Saint-Etienne-au-Mont, France.