MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – It’s a mission of mercy. Last week, we told you about the amazing work of Memphis’ Mission of Mercy, a team of medical professionals and volunteers providing medical services to under-served areas in the Philippines. Now, meet the family behind the organization. As Local 24 News Weeknight Anchor Katina Rankin tells us, their mission is local good news.
“When it comes to folks without means, the thing you have that is a definite is a wait, a long wait. You have to wait for everything: food, you know, rice, healthcare,” said Memphis Mission of Mercy Chairwoman Nia Zalamea Ducklo.
Doctor Nia Zalamea Ducklo’s grandfather passed while waiting in line for healthcare in the Philippines. From that experience, her father Renato and mother Norma Zalamea, who both immigrated from the Philippines to Memphis as nurses in 1973 and ’74, decided to give back to their home country. Renato organized his first mission trip to the Philippines back in 2000 with eleven (11) people and with one goal in mind.
“Even if we just do one operation, it’s worth it,” said Ducklo.
Now, they go to the Philippines every year. They run 5 operation rooms. Each room has a surgeon and his or her team. And her parents are to this day still on each of those mission trips. Their love of helping people shaped Nia’s life.
“I took some time to consider what my purpose is in life,” said Ducklo. “What motivates me is that the Lord has given all of us resources to do something with, and the do something with, is not ourselves.”
Their next mission trip is this September where the family will once again join forces with doctors and volunteers to help those a continent away.
“With the work in the Philippines, it makes the most sense to me. We talk about living faith, that’s the most natural and logical way to live my faith is to do this work,” said Ducklo.
Nia belives this work would make her grandfather proud.
The Zalamea’s plan on building a surgical hospital in the Philippines. Their hope is by cultivating an environment of mutual international service, they will be able to serve the needs of those with challenges, and pass their love of serving to the next generation of caregivers when they are no longer needed.