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Carthage doctor describes ‘eye-opening’ relief work in Philippines

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CARTHAGE — A Carthage doctor who returned to her homeland to help Filipinos recover from a devastating typhoon said many victims would have “laid there and died” had it not been for free clinics provided by relief workers.

It was an “eye-opening” experience for Dr. Jocelyn C. Aznar-Beane, who spent a week in Cebu and returned the day after Thanksgiving.

Along with fellow alumni of Southwestern University in Texas, the Family Medicine Center family practitioner provided medical care and other forms of aid.

“We did what was needed,” the self-described “jack-of-all-trades” said, noting she volunteered in a soup kitchen, helped rebuild homes and raised money following Typhoon Haiyan.

“I joked with other alumni how I wished they had taught us carpentry in medical school,” she said as she described replacing a roof on an elderly woman’s home.

Although she said it was “very sad” to see what people had to endure, it was “fulfilling to help in some small way.”

Since there is no medical insurance for the poor, the medical clinics were a lifeline for many Filipinos, providing antibiotics and treating wounds and infections.

Instead of remaining at a clinic, the medical school alumni traveled three to five hours each day in and out of the devastated area, leaving before dusk to avoid being “accosted by bandits,” Dr. Aznar-Beane said.

Now back in the United States, she said she plans to continue raising money for relief efforts.

Before her trip to the Philippines, she enlisted the help of the Carthage Area Chamber of Commerce, Carthage Area Hospital and Carthage Area Hospital Foundation to spread the word.

“It was overwhelming — I’m thankful for the help,” Dr. Aznar-Beane said of the local contributions. Filipinos “could not believe people across the world, whom they’ve never met, would help them. I can’t thank enough the people who took it upon themselves to lend a helping hand.”

She also expressed gratitude to local physicians, especially Dr. Mirza M. Ashraf, for their assistance.

To help with the relief effort, checks, made payable to Southwestern University Medical Alumni Foundation Inc., can be dropped off at the Carthage Area Hospital Foundation office, 3 Bridge St., West Carthage, or at Dr. Aznar-Beane’s office, 214 Church St., Carthage.

“Any help is appreciated. If you could just see the gratitude on these people’s faces,” Dr. Aznar-Beane said, noting she may make another mission trip to the Philippines in January.

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