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KBI/Tzu Mission to Afghanistan and Cambodia

With Coordination provided by the AFPC - Asia Pacific Initiative

August 16, 2002
Manila, Philippines

We ended our last update with our arrival from Afghanistan, across the Friendship Bridge, in Tashkent, via all night Taxi.

Since our arrival in Uzbekistan, we have regrouped our efforts and made plans for the final legs of this mission. We are now back together in Manila, Philippines to continue the work we started in association with the Joint Forces in Zamboanga and Basilan relative to the ongoing Medcaps here.

When we left the Philippines on July 4th, we had met with USAID and had been instructed on the realities of obtaining a grant through their department. Since we were not on any UN or USAID "lists" we were not given much encouragement. We had decided that it would not be worth the effort to prepare a lengthy proposal, particularly in light of the preparations we had to made in a few days to receive, unload, reload, and distribute 3 - 40 foot containers of supplies in Afghanistan.

But once in Bangkok, on July 8th, we realized we had about 8 hours of free time before we had to leave for Tashkent, so we decided to give the proposal a try. As you probably know, this proposal was eventually accepted (although it had to be rewritten to accommodate drugs made exclusively in the USA for about a 100% increase in costs). Without a doubt, the efforts of friends in the US Embassy, the US Ambassador to the Philippines, and other friends and supporters in the US, had much to do with the prompt approval of the purchase of these medicines.

Since then, the medicines have been purchased, and all have arrived safely in Manila, under the custody of the US Embassy. They are in the process of being shipped to Zamboanga and Basilan Island for use in the Medcap operation scheduled to start this coming week.

The last of the shipment arrived through customs this evening at around 10:00 p.m., consisting of 120 more boxes of medicines. We were there to help in their unloading. We now have all of the medicines to support the 40 individual medcaps, with each medcap treating 500 patients. (20,000 total patients.)

We will be traveling to Zamboanga and to Basilan Island to participate in these Medcaps. While in Zamboanga, we plan to visit the orphanage there where we had previously contributed to several projects on last trip. Many of these improvement projects have already been put into place, orchestrated by Don and Karika Bridgers, which we will be able to see when we are there. We will also be meeting with the local Tzu Chi organization who has been a key part to the success of the entire Joint Forces / NGO medical co-operation program in Basilan. Since our departure in July, they have already participated in Medcaps helping hundreds of people, and we see this as only the beginning.

Before leaving for Basilan, we hope to have the opportunity to meet with the Ambassador here in Manila, so we can thank him for his key support in making this mission a success, and to offer our assistance on further humanitarian efforts in the Philippines.

Also, on Monday, Mr. Elmer Sayre from the Lanao Foundation is flying to Manila to review with us the progress of the projects we jointly initiated on our last trip. We understand that the 10 Buffalo that we contributed to his Buffalo Bank have been purchased and placed with Owner/leasors. The water catchment project at the Muslim school is in progress. And future discussions are under way to provide his area, on the northern end of Mindanao, with similar medicines to what we provided in the South.

On Monday, we plan to meet with USAID to see if we are administering the grant to their satisfaction, and to see if we can make plans in advance for future associations and grants for similar projects here in the Philippines, and elsewhere around the world.

One issue that continues to elude us is the completion of the paperwork required in order for Knightsbridge to be a recognized NGO in the Philippines. This documentation is required to make it easier for us to avail ourselves of the arrangement we have for shipping of humanitarian supplies to the Philippines. We have many people who are working to help us with this documentation, but so far, what was anticipated to take a few days, has now grown to over a month, with no positive conclusion in sight. Bureaucracies and paperwork continue to be a bane to getting our work done properly.

And, finally this evening, we were able to meet Mr. Al Santoli, of the Asia Pacific Initiative who has just arrived in Manila. We showed him the piles of boxes and the medicines that we had just unloaded. He and his staff were instrumental in helping to expedite the approval of the grant funds and the shipping.

It is good tonight, to personally view all of the medicine being delivered here, from the efforts that many good folks put into motion back in early July, in the beginning of our trip. This was a good way to start a mission, and will be a good way to bring it to a close as well.

Photographs attached to this report include:

  • 4473: Boxes of Medicine provided by Knightsbridge
  • 4475: Looking into the truck during unloading
  • 4480: Ed with part of the MedCap boxes
  • 4485: Don Bridgers, Al Santoli, Ed Artis, Karika Bridgers, Walt Ratterman, with some of the medicine for one Medcap.

Thanks for your support, and until next time:

Walt Ratterman, with Ed Artis, and Adrian Belic
Manila, Philippines,
August 16, 2002
www.kbi.org

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