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Via Marquez Hoffmann: Volunteering from the heart |


Via Marquez Hoffmann: Volunteering from the heart

PERSONAL CHOICE - Frannie Jacinto - The Philippine Star
Via Marquez Hoffmann: Volunteering from the heart
Lady Via Hoffmann receives the prestigious Order of Australia award from the Honorable Margaret Beazley in 2021.

After an absence of four years, the international medical groups Operation Restore Hope (ORH) and ASK Foundation have once again joined hands in helping children with cleft palate and lip deformities in the Philippines.

Often shunned or bullied by their peers, these young ones will be able to face life with more confidence once their morale has been restored. They will be able to eat and breathe without discomfort, talk clearly, smile brightly and gain a new self.

The ORH team, headed by doctors Tristan de Chalain, Christopher Wachmuth and Jeff Fairley, together with 39 doctors and nurses from Australia, New Zealand, Abu Dhabi and Germany, brought with them the necessary technical equipment, medication and surgical materials. Luckily for the Ospital ng Parañaque, all the unused supplies, including the up-to-date equipment will be donated to them.

Abu Dhabi volunteers Louise Al Rumaithy, Marie Christin Farok, Ulrick Krocker, and Anne Fairely bring various toys and powdered milk for the young patients

For 25 years, Rosavia “Via” Marquez Hoffmann has been at the helm of the ASK Foundation, which supports ORH in Manila. While she currently lives in Australia, she raises the necessary funds, finding patients in far-flung and impoverished areas, doing the leg work (by not engaging in the immense red tape that certain government agencies seem to delight in). She even makes sure that the young patients are cured if they have TB or pneumonia way before the surgery date. Once in Manila, the patients are given accommodations, meals and transportation for the duration of their stay.

Because of her continued humanitarian works, Hoffmann was awarded the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia in 2021, which entitles her to be called “Lady Via.” This distinguished order was upon the approval of then Queen Elizabeth II and given to persons who have demonstrated outstanding service or exceptional achievement to Australia or humanity by the Governor-General of Australia and Chancellor of the Order of Australia.

A warm welcome for ORH doctors Michael Reardon, Melvin Chong, Christopher Wachsmuth, Phil Wolstencroft, Jana Voepel, Stuart McNiccol, Jeff Fairley, Tristan de Chalain, Alister Ineson, and Arthur Yang

Despite the searing summer heat, everyone was all smiles and cheerful as the young patients were checked by the medical team, making sure that they would be able to withstand surgery and recuperate rapidly, because each operation would entail two to four hours per patient.

For five straight days, the team worked from early morning to late evening. While chatting with the German volunteers who had just come from freezing weather, they informed us that they were delighted with our extremely hot weather.

Upon meeting and thanking lovely nurse Hanna Mays from Sydney, who had recently married, her heartwarming reply was, “We feel thankful and grateful to be here assisting in the project.”

During the welcome dinner for the group, Dr. Tristan de Chalain remarked, “I have arranged other missions to other countries, including Vietnam and Bangladesh, but there is no comparison when we come to the Philippines. It’s like plain rice compared to the feast you served us tonight. We have a store of memories to draw on and we salute the ground staff, the ASK foundation and Via, who will remain our friends for life.”

Medals and citation bestowed on Lady Via Hoffmann for her humanitarian work by the Governor-General of Australia with the approval of Queen Elizabeth II

Dr. Christopher Wachsmuth from Germany added, “This has been our house for decades and thank you to the organizers, Via and Uli Hoffmann, and the ASK ladies, who did a fantastic job throughout the years. We could not have done it without your group. Twenty-five years in the Philippines with nice, friendly, unselfish people, fantastic children whom I wanted to even adopt some. Very thankful for the team coming from various parts of the world, and if this is globalism, I love it!  It means even if there are wars, wherever we come from, we can work, laugh, have fun and do good works together as we give the children a chance to have a better life.”

As the evening ended, Via said what many of us felt of this wonderful medical team: “We extend my deepest thank you in giving our young countrymen a chance to have a normal life. I will say it many times over: you are the true heroes of this mission. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

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