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Meet Anthony Velasco

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anthony Velasco.

Anthony, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a nurse practitioner and an HIV specialist — originally from San Diego but is now based in Palm Springs, CA. For the past two years, I’ve been volunteering with Global Health Force, a nonprofit organization providing health care to medically underserved communities in many parts of the world. I have volunteered in other nonprofit organizations around the world, but my volunteer experience with Global Health Force has been the most memorable that I keep on volunteering year after year.

Our teams are made up of health professionals, as well as logistics and ancillary staff. We deliver medical care, medical education, medical resources, and medical supplies to those most in need so that they might have a more hopeful and productive future and live a more dignified life. We believe that the spirit of volunteerism is alive, and by pooling our resources and experiences, we can be a positive force in helping alleviate some of the sufferings we see around us.

Global Health Force was founded by Dr. Thuy Tran in 2005 and have provided health care to underserved communities in Vietnam, Mexico, Ghana, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Haiti, Honduras, India, Peru, and the Philippines. Today, Global Health Force have had hundreds of volunteers since it was first started, deploying at least two missions a year.

One of these programs is the Philippines group. Established by Kenny Trinidad, the Philippines Program, the largest of Global Health Force’s, has been providing care to thousands of Filipinos since 2012. This past April alone, we provided health care to more than 1700 residents of Pasay City in Metro Manila and Manaoag City on the island of Cebu. Additionally, we partnered with Salon 1971 of Downey, California to provide free haircuts and salon experience to almost 300 residents of local communities.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Like many other nonprofit organizations, Global Health Force highly relies on the generosity of our volunteers and sponsors. We have been blessed that many individuals who have previously volunteered with Global Health Force come back almost on an annual basis to volunteer their time and skills. The strong relationships we have fostered with our patrons, local businesses, and healthcare organizations, have also helped us address some funding for medical supplies and medications used in our missions.

Bringing medical supplies and medications to other countries also proved to be quite challenging. Different countries have different requirements for medical supplies, and we always have to ensure that we acquire adequate documentation and undergo strict processes to ensure that the supplies and medications we bring are allowed through customs. Finally, the logistics of developing community relationships with host countries, ensuring that adequate funding is secured for each mission, as well as securing accommodations and transportation for our volunteers are oftentimes challenging and requires year-long preparation.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Global Health Force – what should we know?
Global Health Force specializes in compassionate care through volunteering. We believe that access to health care is essential, and by partnering with other grassroots organizations, we are able to ensure that the communities we serve will continue to have access to care.

We also recognize the importance of sustainability. Unlike other medical missions I have joined in the past, Global Health Force builds relationships with local organizations and health centers to ensure that the people we serve are able to have adequate access and follow-up with their local medical providers. Additionally, the way each mission was set up was the most organized and well thought out missions I have joined.

Though the missions are time-limited, the relationships we build between volunteers and communities we serve are life-long. Even after the medical missions, many members keep in touch, attend each other’s birthdays, celebrate each other’s weddings, etc. This perhaps was one of the main reasons I continue to volunteer with Global Health Force – I flew to the Philippines to join a medical mission, but I went back to the states with life-long friends.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The ones that deserve the most credit for the success of the Global Health Force are our volunteers. As our Philippine group leader, Kenny Trinidad, once said during our debriefing, “without the kind-hearted volunteers of Global Health Force, we will not be able to do what we do.”

The flexibility of our volunteers and their willingness to go above and beyond than what is expected when we encounter unexpected turns is a true testament of the generosity and kindness of what makes our Global Health Force volunteers amazing humanitarians.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Richard Flores-Reynoso, Vladimir Camarce

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