PINGTUNG CHRISTIAN HOSPITAL VISIT
Our day began at an early 7:30 am with a long drive to the Pingtung Christian Hospital (PTCH, for short). As the bus was filling up, the excited chatter occupied it. Students, as always, were bustling and moving about, interacting with our Montreal CHSP members. The chatter dropped about half an hour into the ride as some of our students drifted off to sleep. I, however, stayed awake in the eerie early morning silence that weighed in on the bus. The scenic views and greenery kept my eyes wide open and my phone camera ready for yet another iconic Instagram picture.
As we arrived, we were greeted warmly by the staff, who then ushered us into a conference room with Dr. Yu. He was very pleased to see us at the hospital and proceeded with minor introductions about the hospital’s foundation and objectives. The Pingtung Christian hospital was based on a missionary whose main belief revolved around the quote “wherever a need there will be met.” There was then an evolution from a community clinic that was service-based to a full hospital that is care-based, which basically encompasses the hospital’s current care-basis principle.
Dr. Yu then began his main presentation and spoke about the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for humanity. These included, but were not limited to, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality, empowering women and improving mental health. He also mentioned that 2015 was the post – MDG era where a unified framework is established through these sustainable development goals. This segment of the presentation was interesting as it allowed us to gain a perspective on Taiwan’s position on international matters through Dr. Yu. He spoke very passionately about the initial missionaries and how their inspiring work seemed to have influenced his line of work and help in Malawi where we spoke about his instigating work and battle against HIV/AIDS. Many of our presentations and meetings were about very specific topics that solely pertained to Taiwan. Dr. Yu allowed us to obtain a doctor’s perspective on such issues and that’s why this meeting was very distinctive.
Dr. Yu told us about the importance of the anti-retrovirus drug for these patients as well as the existence of a support group for widows whose spouse died of HIV/AIDS. He also spoke of a program that PTCH implemented called “Saved by the Ball.” One of the major reasons that AIDS is so prevalent in Malawi is because of the early exposure to sexual activity (as early as 8 years old for many children). As disheartening as the fact is, the program’s main focus is to keep the children playing or entertained instead of resorting to sex to overcome boredom. It is funded by a German group and a similar idea is backed up by corporations like Coca Cola and their push for table tennis. Essentially, HIV/AIDS is not a health problem, it is a socio-economic issue and can be prevented if the socio-economic statuses are targeted. This meeting really shed some light on the issue at hand as well as the importance of integrating the MDG components to solve many problems at once.
Following this enlightening visit, we went on an excursion to the famous Ken-Ting beach. For the days preceding, the students went on and on about this beach, how they wished they were accompanying us and how beautiful it really is. The bus ride took around 2 hours, but there were no complaints. We had discovered a microphone/speaker set in the bus at that point, and we ended up turning our boring bus into a two-hour Karaoke party. Finally, we had arrived at our destination and the driver could rid himself of the noisy (yet musically talented) kids. Our view of the ocean en route was beautiful itself, but nothing could prepare us for the beauty to be seen once we had reached Ken-Ting beach. The emerald and clear ocean with crashing waves against the light sand beach was almost like a painting, or an Instagram photo with an appropriate filter. But in this case, no filter was needed. Immediately, we rushed into the water and basked in the ocean’s glory. This experience was so refreshing and necessary as up until then, the beauty of Taiwan merely resonated with their supreme-no-wait-lines healthcare system and vibrant temples. This was the opportunity to actually see the beauty in nature and so we were blessed. After that, one of our accompanying students took us to his family restaurant where we ate the most delicious sea food and the best sashimi. Needless to say, the day was amazing.