Dr. Ramon Sy, founder of Aloha Medical Mission, which provides medical services to needy areas in Asia and the Pacific, has entered a new partnership with the Polynesian Voyaging Society.
Since the Hokulea has been traveling the world on its recent voyage to honor master navigator Mau Piaulug, several teams of Aloha Medical Mission volunteer doctors and nurses arrived at the same time as the Hokulea and Alingano Maisu to help 1,500 patients on rural Micronesian islands such as Chuuk, Pohnpei and Yap.
“I thought it would be great if we could join them,” says Sy. “We couldn’t sail with them because it takes two or three weeks to get there. We had our doctors fly in and spend their time treating patients.”
Sy says one of the challenges of this mission was not knowing exactly when the canoes were going to arrive, as the doctors were waiting on-call to find out when they might be going to volunteer.
“And the areas were challenging, as you could hardly get there by ordinary transportation,” he says. “They sometimes had to fly in small planes and take boats too.”
One of the most interesting aspects of the partnership, he says, was when the doctors discovered a unique disease that isn’t in the medical books.
A native of the Philippines, Sy moved to Honolulu in 1968. He was with Kaiser Medical Center for 10 years, and now has a private practice.
He founded Aloha Medical Mission in 1983 with seven people, and now credits the 3,000 volunteers who since have helped out and stepped up to leadership positions.
“It’s so inspiring to see others taking over the work to get more people to help,” he says. “The more we can do, the better.”
That community spirit is what has earned Sy the national Jefferson Award. He’ll be honored for his public service June 19 in the Capitol Hill Rotunda. He acknowledges the love and support of his wife, Elizabeth, and grown children Angela, Michael and Christopher.
With his focus on helping others, Sy looks forward to seeing all proceeds from the third annual benefit musical, Four Doctors, A Patient, and the Mayor, go to the Aloha Medical Mission. It will be staged at 7 p.m. Aug.18 at Blaisdell Concert Hall.
For more information, log onto www.alohamedicalmission.org
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