Help Dr. Helen go to Asia to serve!

Hi everyone! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Helen Paguntalan and I am a general pediatrician and have been practicing medicine in Southern California in the last few years, particularly serving the uninsured and MediCal population. While it has certainly been a humbling experience working in the community, my heart has been longing to do some overseas work for some time. In the past, I have taught English in China and have done medical relief work in both the Philippines and Guam and all these experiences have changed me tremendously in a positive way that it has become my goal to incorporate projects like these as regular part of my career path. I have a strong passion for volunteerism and global health and have decided to take a brief step away from my clinical duties here in the US to partake in international volunteer projects in Asia.

Why you may ask? Well I say why not?! Only great things come out of new experiences and challenges that involve servant leadership. I have been pretty comfortable where I have been working and to be completely honest, a little burned out for some time and as result have reached a point where I feel it’s time to step out of my comfort zone to grow, evolve, and move on to the next phase in my career. For some time now, I have been considering a specialty change, possibly to Sports Medicine and/or Functional Medicine. But in the mean time, I would like to take some time away to volunteer overseas to regain some perspective on my career purpose, and most importantly, serve poor communities that really need the help!

 I have researched a number of volunteer organizations and so far, a few that my heart is drawn to include the following:

1. This is a genuine non-profit organization that offers volunteer opportunities to work with underprivileged Balinese children. The project I am particularly drawn to involves supporting children with special needs, including Cerebral Palsy, Down’s syndrome, Autism and other various disabilities. My role will be non-clinical but the idea of working so closely with these kids and contributing to their well-being and emotional health truly excites me!

2.  This organization offers multiple volunteer opportunities in various countries. I have looked into their Volunteer Healthcare Project in Thailand and it makes me smile every time I think about it! My role will be in providing stimulation and learning activities for mentally and physically disabled children as well as provide further assistance in health and hygiene education in school, care centers, and community centers.

3. I have volunteered with this organization in the past when I was just a student toying with the idea of medicine so this particular project is quite special to me. I have fond memories of my last volunteer trip to the Philippines with them where I had the opportunity to be a part of a large team of over a 100 doctors, dentists, nurses, and volunteers to serve over 7,000 indigent patients in 1 week! It truly excites me to be able to come back as one of their attending physicians!

 The extent and length of time at which I can be involved in these projects will heavily depend on how much funds I am able to raise. Volunteering overseas can get pretty expensive with the cost of flights and local transportation, program fees, health/travel insurance, room/board/food, etc. Meanwhile, I also have the financial constraints of keeping up with my bills at home, particularly repaying my medical school debt, while living off my savings.

So this is where your support will really help me out and in turn, impact those that I will serve. Any dollar amount is appreciated towards this cause as I am really passionate about these volunteer projects. If you’re not in the position to donate money at this time, please do reach out to me. I would love to hear your thoughts and perhaps, you may also want to join me or get involved in something similar.

My decision to do this is a leap of faith for me so your prayers are definitely appreciated. This is my first time doing such a fundraiser of this scale, so if you have any ideas/experience you would like to share with me to help make this a successful fundraising effort, please reach out! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and hope you’re just as excited as me after learning about these wonderful opportunities I have described! Please also share this with others if your heart is compelled to do so! Help me reach my goal before November 2017 which is when I plan to depart for Asia.


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Helen Grace 
Daly City, CA
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