By Marivir R. Montebon
Two good friends help each other to be able to make a difference in the lives of ordinary people together. Joy Chavez Abraham and May Tumulak Durano, both nurses, show us how.
New York City — Joy Chavez Abraham needed to sleep before going to work on a night shift at the Mt. Sinai Hospital at the upper east side of the city. But before she could do such necessary rest, she had to attend her friend’s daughter’s 18th birthday party and induct into office a new set officers of her foundation.
That’s how registered nurse and community leader Joy has fashioned her life to be…meaningfully busy.
In 2009, she founded the Toboso Escalante Association (TEA) which provides medical services in the towns of Toboso and Escalante, which are in her home province in Negros Oriental.
“We can help others without having to spend our own money. My skill is more on tapping resources and giving it to where it is needed,” she said.
Joy believes that she is blessed to be in the US where there are lots of resources to be tapped for needy individuals. Since the TEA’s inception, Joy has now accumulated a network of organizations which provides resources for their medical and dental missions to the Philippines.
The organization has included local doctors, nurses, and medical workers in extending assistance to the villages of Toboso and Escalante.
This effort is nothing new, but is certainly relevant, because it provides immediate relief for medical attention. Basic health services are still largely absent in the Philippine rural areas.
Joy said that their short-term mission does not automatically end when the doctors pack and leave. The TEA provides patients with one month supply of medication for free from local clinics.
Registered nurse and beauty titlist May Tumulak Durano practically does the same thing as Joy for several years. In fact, they have supported each other in several medical missions in their hometowns since a few years ago. The two friends went on a relief mission together after the super typhoon Haiyan (locally Yolanda) hit provinces in the Visayas.
May recently formally launched her own foundation, in time for her only daughter Samantha’s 18th birthday in March 2015. To honor her father who served as town mayor of San Francisco in the province of Agusan del Sur, the late Bienvenido Y. Tumulak Sr. now has a foundation to his name, the Bienvenido Y. Tumulak Sr. (BYTS) Foundation. Joy was the one who inducted the foundation’s pioneering officers into office at the Astoria World Manor.
The BYTS Foundation focuses on providing social and health services to women and children. It started with a nutrition project for school children in 2013.
“I set up this foundation in memory of my father who was gracious, charismatic and generous man. He helped a lot of people to better their lives in my dear hometown. We are innovating ways to make nourishment a long-term capability of rural families, especially mothers,” she said.
May said she has been always grateful for Joy for her support and inspiration. And Joy says the same about her friend’s infectious passion.