Dear Mr. Allan Pineda Lindo, Jr.,
My name is Tracey O’Keeffe and I am praying this letter finds you. I am a nurse and I work full time at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. I recently returned from my second medical mission to Angeles City, Philippines. It was a wonderful, unforgettable experience that I am grateful for. I know you were born and raised in Angeles City and remain devoted to your homeland. I am touched by your life story and am hoping I can touch you with my story… and the story of some of the children whose lives we transform with a one-hour surgery.
Tracey O’Keeffe, RN sharing some fun
For the past five years I have been volunteering with a non-profit medical group called Medical Missions for Children (www.MMFC.org). MMFC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to correcting facial deformities of under privileged children and young adults around the world. We specialize in correcting cleft lips and palates, ear deformities, severe facial injuries and burns. Our medical team consists of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, dentists and speech therapists from well- respected hospitals in the U.S. and abroad. Each team member volunteers his or her vacation time to participate. On average MMFC completes 15 to 20 missions world- wide each year, including Angeles City and Leyte, Philippines.
Our recent trip to the Philippines was very successful. With the help and dedication of the Filipino volunteers and, in particular, Holy Family Academy Batch 83, we were able to provide life altering surgery to 40 deserving children and young adults at the Dee Hwa Liong Foundation Medical Center. In particular we had the pleasure of meeting the De La Cruz family. The De La Cruz family consists of 7 children, three of the children have a cleft lip and palate. Being an impoverished family from a small community outside of Angeles City, the De La Cruz’s had no hope of receiving medical attention for their children. The three children were under weight for their age, had permanent speech impediments and were social outcasts as a result of their deformities. Fortunately, MMFC had the ability to help. We performed 5 surgeries to correct the lips and palates of these children. They will now have the ability to eat and grow properly, their speech impediments can be improved, and our hope and belief is that their self-esteem and social status will improve as well. Seeing the radiating smiles from the faces of these children along with the appreciation of their familes is priceless. There are no words to describe the gratitude felt at the end of our work week. It is why we continue to do what we do.
The Filipinos are the warmest, most hospitable culture of people I have had the pleasure to work with. The city of Angeles, the history and most of all the people have left a lasting impression on me. I have committed to returning annually as a volunteer.
I chose to write to you Mr. Pineda because you are an inspiration for young adults. You have overcome many obstacles to become a musical icon. You remain dedicated to your Filipino roots and I believe you will appreciate the work we do for your people. I also feel that with your support we can continue to treat the underprivileged children of Angeles City.
I know that as the Black Eyed Peas band member apl.de.ap you have been appointed special ambassador to education by the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation named after two of the Philippines’ democracy icons, and that you have helped to launch school projects in Angeles City that aim to increase literacy and develop the musical talents of young Filipinos.
Volunteering with Medical Missions for Children is a true passion of mine, I absolutely adore this work. I would love to share the many stories and pictures I have of the Angeles mission if you have further interest. I hope that you will consider expanding the reach of your charitable work in Angeles City and support the medical care that MMFC provides to the Filipino children and young adults.
Thank you for your time,
Tracey O’Keeffe, RN