Photo: A family we interviewed on maternal health and family planning
Article authored by: Dianne Joy Castelo
June proved to be a very busy month for us here in the San Jose offices of Alay Foundation in the Philippines. We found ourselves deeply immersed in preparing to host our second blood drive, gearing up to present our very first educational outreach class, “Let’s Talk About Sex”, and all the while assisting a professional film crew capturing all of our events plus maternal health care interviews with a number of women and men from the barangays. The results of our filming will be released in the coming months as a series of videos on our website and on various social media platforms. We are very excited to share them with you and invite you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as we near the time of launching the videos!
Preparing for the mid-June blood drive began in earnest in May as we worked hard to promote the event in San Jose and the surrounding barangays. That Saturday, June 13th, we expected a big crowd at Plaza Leonor – the pavilion on Sobrepena Drive. The first participants to come to the blood drive were Peace Action and Rescue with Dedication to Serve the Society (PARDSS). All of them underwent the assessment to determine if they could donate blood. The Philippine Red Cross has very strict guidelines for blood donors. The second group of participants that came were the Philippine Army. Most of the soldiers and officers passed the screening and were allowed to donate blood because of their physical fitness. Next arrived the fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega (APO), the Scouts Royal Brotherhood / Sisterhood, and some of our friends, relatives, neighbors, and the people of San Jose to participate. All in all, we had a total of 70 participants, of whom 36 became blood donors. With 36 blood donations up to 108 lives will be saved. And we improved on our first blood drive held in November of 2014 – it seems we are making progress thanks to all who came out to support us!
After the blood drive we reorganized Plaza Leonor in preparation for the educational class, “Let’s Talk About Sex”. Ms. Reina Regina Eugenio, Director of the Institute for Enterprise Solutions, a post-secondary school based in San Jose, delivered the presentation on sexual and reproductive health. The members of the audience came from a number of different barangays. Some were mothers or students. Others were barangay health workers and some were even barangay officials. The class went very well and we all learned something about sex education that can be applied to our own lives.
The next day, June 14th, I woke up extra early at 2 o’clock in the morning to prepare myself for transporting two cleft lip / palate patients to Kapampangan Development Foundation (KDF) in Pampanga. Ivan Dangla, a one-year old baby boy, and Cathalea Soriano, a seven-month old baby girl were accompanied by their mothers and relatives as we took our ride on a bus at 3 o’clock in the morning in order to arrive by 6 am. After their registration and screening, I asked Ms. Tess of KDF to assist the patients and their families so I could return to San Jose to continue my duties with the filming project. I arrived around 2 pm and prepared lunch for the filming crew. After the meal, we proceeded to Sto. Nino 3rd to continue interviewing mothers and expectant mothers for the filming project. While we were there, the Barnagay Health Worker (BHW) informed us that Mrs. Evelyn Reguyal had given birth earlier in the day, so we decided to visit her in the General Hospital where she kindly agreed to be interviewed. Wishing her and her new baby well, we left some donated clothing for Evelyn and her family.
After leaving the hospital, we interviewed Verginia Pregillana, the caretaker of an orphaned child who lost their mother in childbirth. We also interviewed Julie Ann Tubera – a first time mother, Eliza Tumamao – also a first time mother and mother of triplets. Lastly, we interviewed two Barnagay Health Workers, Melinda Rombo and Maribel Copuz of Sto. Nino 3rd, San Jose, Nueva Ecija. Melinda made us smile and laugh with her good natured jokes – it was a lighthearted experience.
It was a long, but good, day and the filming was done so we returned to Plaza Leonor to review the footage and prepare dinner for the crew before they headed back to Manila. As for young Ivan and Cathalea, we returned to Pampanga on June 16th after their cleft lip / palate surgeries to accompany them back home to San Jose. But, as luck would have it, our van broke down for the second time we were escorting patients to and from KDF. Ugh! We are definitely going to need a new van! We finally got the van checked out at a gas station and temporarily up and running so we could make our way to KDF. Once we arrived Doc Guy decided that, to be safe, he would send us all back to San Jose by bus. We will have an update on Ivan and Cathalea’s progress in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!