Empowering Youth+Financial Literacy

by Duncan Tree Foundation
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Empowering Youth+Financial Literacy
Empowering Youth+Financial Literacy
Empowering Youth+Financial Literacy
Empowering Youth+Financial Literacy
Empowering Youth+Financial Literacy
Empowering Youth+Financial Literacy
Empowering Youth+Financial Literacy
Empowering Youth+Financial Literacy
Empowering Youth+Financial Literacy
Dwaine out in nature post-surgery
Dwaine out in nature post-surgery

Dwaine's dreams are so simple, yet so beautiful. She just wants to be that low-key, human nature lover making a living doing what she loves. Now she is free to do so.

Before her corrective spine surgery, Dwaine described her life as hard and physically uncomfortable. She felt trapped and not free. Her severe spinal curve reduced the amount of space in her chest and was the reason why it was difficult for her to breathe, not to mention the embarrassment of people staring at her because of her curved spine condition. Yet in spite of her scoliosis, Dwaine possessed a strong spirit and fought for her dream to be free of this condition.

The Duncan Tree Foundation (DTF) exists because of people like Dwaine and her dream. We have provided many adolescent patients like her with very expensive spinal implants and surgeries for free in order to help patients like Dwaine reach their dreams.

We were delighted to have celebrated our 13th anniversary on January 28, 2021. And since our scoliosis program kicked-off in 2012, the DTF has given 174 adolescents, with severe scoliosis, the chance to have normal lives, free of bullying, and long life without complications due to progressive spine curvature. The DTF also offered advanced training in complex spine case management for medical professionals in under-resourced countries, like the Philippines, where Dwaine is from, and in Jamaica.

Our organization hopes to continue this mission while expanding our focus into online education and training advocacy going forward.  To bring healing not just to the physical but also to the emotional, spiritual and financial aspects of life, DTF will create and distribute content to a larger audience of under-served communities around the world.  By educating young people, we are empowering them to make life decisions that are best for them and their communities.

We would appreciate it if you would share this progress report and support us in this endeavor by making a tax-deductible donation today. We realize your money is precious and that there are many great causes out there. Your donation will provide financial resources to help us launch future educational projects.

We welcome your support no matter how small so that we can continue to thrive and help other young people live out their dreams for years to come.

Please consider making a donation today to make someone else's dream come true.

Dwaine living post-surgery (Philippines)
Dwaine living post-surgery (Philippines)
Dwaine living her tie dye dream (Philippines)
Dwaine living her tie dye dream (Philippines)
Dwaine's back pre- and post-surgery (Philippines)
Dwaine's back pre- and post-surgery (Philippines)
Dwaine's spine x-ray before surgery (Philippines)
Dwaine's spine x-ray before surgery (Philippines)


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Alexi post-surgery and all dressed up
Alexi post-surgery and all dressed up

Duncan Tree and our local partner Scoliosis Philippines recently organized a Facebook Rooms reunion with a group of beneficiaries from the Philippines. We wanted to find out how these young people were coping physically and emotionally during the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea was to encourage everyone to remain hopeful and positive during this season of uncertainty. To lift everyone's spirit we sang Imagine, by John Lennon, and everyone took turns sharing their inner thoughts and feelings and what they were each doing to remain positive in spite of all of the challenges outside of their control.

The group consensus was it was hard to be cooped up indoors for months during COVID, but everyone understood the importance of staying home and staying safe and they were all looking forward to a better future. To help brighten everyone's spirit we organized a creative contest to hear and see rays of sunshine coming out of the pandemic.

I am delighted to share the winning entry (a poem) by Alexi D who received free surgical intervention for severe scoliosis from the Duncan Tree Team (in partnership with Medtronic Spine & Biologics, Speciality Care, and Southern Philippines Medical Center with you).


I SPY (a Poem by Alexi D)

I spy with my little eyes;

carefree little children laughing, playing with their bikes.

I spy with my little eyes;

Lads and lassies finally achieving what they really like.

Was just a Wee Bonnie Lassie,

wanting a beautiful normal life.

Unable to have one for hers,

‘Cuz of an inborn disability she mostly despised.

She wants it away, she wants it gone.

So that she can finally be free and carefree.

Kneeled and prayed, to the Gods she begun

Hoping one day they’ll grant the wish, the little lassie sung.

And so a blessing in disguise, 

an angel on its feet arrives!

Offered the wee bonnie lassie, 

a chance to change and survive!

She was so happy, 

so thankful and lucky,

That finally the things she once dreamed to do

are now finally within her grasp.

But that grasp wasn’t tight.

The dream of hers almost went out of her sight.

A pandemic you call it, a deadly virus, you describe it

became one of the reasons for her to slip it.

In her little mind, she thought

“Is this a sign?

 That I should give up trying and just spend to my family,

the rest of my time?”

But then she thought once more,

“I’ve encountered worse than this,

Suffered severe than this,

Why would I give up, when I’m almost at the door?”

So the wee Bonnie Lassie,

Once more believed,

And continued hoping that one day,

That dream of hers will finally be secured at her reach.


We realize this is a difficult time for many around the globe, but if you are in the spirit of giving to lift the spirits of these young people, we welcome you to give any amount you can. Share your comments and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @duncantree.

pre-op xray
pre-op xray
post-op xray
post-op xray
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Ouida Duncan
Ouida Duncan

390,578 deaths worldwide with 109,726 deaths to COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. (as of June 4, 2020) gives the entire world time to pause, think and mourn. 

The recent death of George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubrey, and Breonna Taylor from racial injustice cause us to further pause.

Now is the time to take a stand against social injustice. Now is a time for hope, restoration, and revival. Now is the time to become active, focused, and organized to change legislation to straighten scoliosis in our criminal just system and have a society that all can live, work and prosper in safety and as equals.

Duncan Tree Foundation is now in the process of pausing rebuilding, rebranding, and reimagining our mission of healing, teaching, and empowerment.

We are proud of the transformative work we’ve done since our founding in 2008 to provide relief through free spine surgeries to hundreds of patients with spine deformity, who could not afford the cost of implants or surgery. Hundreds of healthcare workers have benefited from our continuing medical education program and have demonstrated significant improvements in their medical practice.

We want to recognize and thank our public/private partners who have partnered with Duncan Tree to help many people: 

  • Medtronic Spine & Biologic
  • NuVasive Clinical Services
  • Specialty Care
  • The government of Jamaica
  • Kingston Public Hospital
  • Cornwall Regional Hospital
  • Southern Philippines Medical Center
  • Tebow CURE Hospital
  • Princess Elizabeth Center in Trinidad & Tobago

If you are interested in volunteering to make a difference in the lives of black and brown young people who have great potential but have limited resources, please join us in our efforts to do the same. 

We need volunteers with the following backgrounds: Corporate Law, Accounting, Finance, Grant Research, Grantwriting, Strategic Planning, and Marketing.

Visit www.duncantreefoundation.org for more information.

Thank you!


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Nurse Nina T: Cornwall Regional Hospital, JA '16
Nurse Nina T: Cornwall Regional Hospital, JA '16

We have received wonderful feedback from our volunteers over the years. One of the letters that stands out the most is a letter from one of our Nurse volunteers, Nina T, RN, who accompanied our team on Duncan Tree's 5th mission trip to Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay (June-July 2016) where four patients received life-transforming corrective spine surgery.


A Letter from Nurse Nina T.

Jun 27, 2016, 7:50 PM

As I prepare to return to work tomorrow I have been reflecting on the events and experiences from the past four days. This trip has re-ignited my spirt of care and reminded me of why I chose the nursing profession. To see, and experience, the pure joy, and hope that this foundation instills not only in the children receiving surgery but in their families, is life-changing. So because I am missing all of the amazing people that I had the privilege of meeting and working besides I wanted to share my highlight and lowlight for the day.

The lowlight is obvious...not being there with you all.

The highlight...moving forward in my nursing practice with a newfound motivation and inspiration having connected with four children and their family's in such a profound way.

No expectations, no sense of entitlement just pure unencumbered appreciation.

I will carry this experience with me and hope to remain involved with this wonderful charity for many years to come. Thank you so much,

Big hug, squeeze and shake,

Nina T., RN.


We encourage more seasoned orthopedic nurses, scrub techs and nurse anesthetists as well as seasoned spine surgeons to join us on upcoming, life-altering missions to Jamaica and the Philippines. Not only are the patients lives transformed your life will be transformed also.

To find out more about our spine missions, to volunteer or to make a donation, please visit us on our website
www.duncantreefoundation.org and across all of our social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and LinkedIn.

#duncantreefoundation #medtronicspine #scoliosisresearchsociety #specialtycare #spinenurse #healing #transformation #empowerment

Volunteers Rey & Nurse Nina T, Duncan Tree mission
Volunteers Rey & Nurse Nina T, Duncan Tree mission
Patient Ravelle. L post-op at Cornwall Regional
Patient Ravelle. L post-op at Cornwall Regional


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before and after clinical photos of Nathan
before and after clinical photos of Nathan

I’m Nathaniel, 17 years of age from Lipa Batangas Philippines. Turning 14 years old and I was Grade 9, when my parents noticed a lump on the right side of my spine that would rise up and kind of roll when I bent forward. It was also a year of discovery, at least as far as my health was concerned.

Papa made an appointment with our pediatrician. It all happened so fast. In March 2016, almost at the end of Grade 9, x-rays revealed that I had a thoracic curve from T5 to T11 measuring 65 degrees and a Thoracolumbar curve from T12 to L4 measuring 32 degrees. It was official, and at the age of 14, I was diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, meaning that my spine was shaped like an “S”. It was the first time, I heard the word! I was told I would have to be fitted for and wear a back brace to try and prevent the curve advancing. 

So off to the brace maker we went. To be fitted for a brace you have to lie on a table and be wrapped in cold wet gauze. You have to lie still until the mixture dries. It is not an easy thing to do, nor is it very uncomfortable. A few weeks later, we picked up the brace. I was fitted for a brace, which I was told to wear for 23 and a half hours a day. My half hour showers were the highlight of my day. It fit tightly around my stomach and closed in the back with leather buckles in an attempt to straighten my spine. It was so uncomfortable! Oh and it wasn’t bad enough that it was uncomfortable but it was embarrassing too!

Unfortunately, the brace didn’t stop the curves from growing. I was x-rayed every six months. At each doctor’s visit, I felt my stomach drop and the room spin as I heard the news that my scoliosis was progressing despite the brace. By the time I was in tenth grade, my Thoracic curve had also progressed to 90 degrees, while the Thoracolumbar curve was up to 55 degrees.

My parents never stopped searching for what to do with my Scoliosis until one day they found “Scoliosis Philippines Support Group” headed by Ms. Amanda Glenda Bonife-Kiamko through Facebook. Scoliosis Philippines Support Group promotes awareness and provides support to those Scoliosis patients like me. It aims to inspire, empower and give hope. June 30, 2018, we attended Scoliosis Awareness Month in Philippine Rehabilitation Institute, they have free consultation during the event and by that time one of the Specialist from Philippine Orthopedic Center told that my curve is not for bracing anymore. Surgery was recommended. I remember my Papa and Mommy crying then I started to cry. It was a very scary time for me. You never see your parents cry so I knew this was not going to be good.

Through the advice of Ms. Amanda, we applied as a beneficiary of The Duncan Tree Foundation, (founded and headed by Ms. Ouida Duncan) a non-profit organization serving the medical needs of the poor and vulnerable in selected countries and among local population groups. And it’s a big surprise that after a month of filing, Southern Philippines Medical Center emailed us, inviting to do Pre-surgical Assessment in Davao City. August 2018 we flew to Davao for my assessment. This assessment gave me so much hope that one day my life will go back to normal as before.

The long wait is over, June 30, 2019 Southern Philippine Medical Center texted my parents that I am one of the lucky applicants of “The Duncan Tree Foundation” and they were expecting us to fly again to Davao in preparation of my surgery. July 10, 2019, we arrived in Davao City for the second time and this is more exciting by this time because I know it’s a new ME when we go back to Batangas.

My surgery was scheduled on July 22, 2019 and I was filled with fear and worry. I researched spinal fusion surgery and read other patients’ stories online. I was encouraged by their testimonials to think positively and to visualize myself as healthy and vibrant after surgery. I also read about the importance of being in great physical shape before surgery. I jogged around my neighborhood to build endurance, clear my mind and practice my positive affirmations To prepare for my scoliosis surgery, I had to get standard blood work done, chest X-ray and MRI. The MRI, not so much! Being put in a big tube was not my favorite moment! I was so scared. I remember they let my mom hold my hand as I was placed deeper into the tube. I had to hold still and had earphones on. In the tube I was good, because I had to be, but I was so very scared! I remember tears rolling down my cheeks and the back of my head getting wet. As I came out everyone told me how very brave I was but I sure didn’t feel that way.

On the outside I seemed fine but on the inside, I was scared to death! I had my entire family with me. Before being taken into surgery I was hooked up to all these electrodes that would be used to make sure all my nerves remained intact during surgery. I looked like a science fiction character. It was at this point I broke down. I started, what we call in my family, “the ugly cry”. My parents were holding my hand and they started to cry too. They are both crying and both scared. My mom gave me some quick kisses and words of love. After a nurse gave me some medication, I started feeling more and more relaxed and then my memory faded. I don’t remember anything after that. According to my parents, the surgery took a total of eight hours.

I woke up in the recovery room with my family all around me. I know my mom and dad spent the night because they’re always there. My eyes were so puffy that it was difficult to see them, but I felt so much better that I know they’re in my side. It is funny the things I remember. The very next day physical therapy came to get me up to a chair. I know they got me up in a chair but I have no idea how they did it. Once on the floor, things started to get harder because physical therapy has you up and out twice a day walking down the hall. I didn’t want to get up and move, I just wanted to lay in bed. I also needed to start eating. I had no appetite and all my family wanted me to do was eat. My dad just kept saying eat, eat, eat I was getting sick of it and just didn’t want to eat.

It was at this time I was told I was going to get to go home. I was very excited to get out the door and go home. The day had finally come and I could be discharged. There is nothing better than being told you can now go home! It wasn’t to sleep in my own bed or be home with my family. Once home, the days sort of blurred together at first. I would get up, get cleaned up, and get my back dressing changed. Taking the tape off my back to change the dressing hurt a lot. I seemed to have sensitively to the tape which made it hard to peel off without taking skin off. It took me a while to get an appetite. I knew I had to eat well because I had a lot of healing to do. I was sure to eat lots of protein and calcium. Even if I didn’t really feel like eating I was sure to get the right food groups needed to promote healing.

I also started physical therapy after I got home. Most of my therapy consisted of helping my ability to move, improving my functional ability strengthening and flexibility. The work was hard, but my physical therapists were so nice. The fact that I wanted to work hard made the process easier. My parents kept telling me there would be a light at the end of the tunnel and as therapy went on, I found that to be true.

 My surgeon was right. Spinal fusion surgery didn’t limit me physically at all. In fact, it made me stronger both physically and mentally and it really boosted my self-confidence. I set my mind towards several goals, including graduating Senior High School class and attending Lyceum of the Philippines, (Batangas) as an Engineer.

My life changing story couldn’t be possible without the help of my ANGELS, Ms. Amanda Glenda Bonife- Kiamko who never left us until the end of our journey. She’s always there for us to support in all aspects. And to Ms. Ouida Duncan, No words can describe how blessed, thankful and grateful we are. You are the answer to our prayers over the past years. I will be thankful to both of  you until the rest of my life. Also to Southern Philippines Medical Center, especially to Orthopedic Department, thank you for taking care of me and the rest of the Beneficiaries and treating us like one of your family. Most of all to my loving family who supported me 100%.  I will be forever thankful for giving me another LIFE. Thank you for this wonderful journey. 

This is my story and I want to help any other scoliosis warriors out there. I understand the pain you go through but you have to realize just how strong you really are. Yes there are still days where I wish I could bend my back like loads of people take for granted but I was chosen to be like this and I'm happy. I want to show you that even with a medical condition you can still be beautiful. We are all beautiful. I want to take you with me on this journey and I will keep you all updated on what is to come. If you have a scoliosis story to share I would love to hear it. I want to empower the scoliosis community.

Bent, Not Broken.

before and after X-rays (frontal)
before and after X-rays (frontal)


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Organization Information

Duncan Tree Foundation

Location: Jamaica, New York - USA
Project Leader:
Ouida Duncan
President & Founder
Long Island City, New York United States
$7,692 raised of $35,000 goal
146 donations
$27,308 to go
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