Let’s Talk About Sex: Reflections on World Contraception Day and Our First Teen Class

Let’s Talk about Sex

World Contraception Day

September 26, 2015

Post written by Rizza Paray

World Contraception Day was a day Alay Foundation set aside to meet with teenage students for our “Let’s Talk About Sex” educational class and workshop that covered a wide range of topics related to sexual and reproductive health and rights specifically suited for a youth audience.  From healthy relationships and birth control to sexually transmitted diseases and dating violence, Alay staff and contributors brought these topics to life through our interactive educational outreach programming.  On World Contraception Day we hosted our first-ever class geared toward and for youth.  More than 60 students from the Institute of Enterprise Solutions gathered at Plaza Leonor in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija to participate in a lecture, role playing exercises, and a quiz show game.

My contribution that day was to give a lecture and then lead the discussion on healthy and unhealthy relationships and dating violence.  At first I was nervous but just thinking about girls who suffer from violence gave me the courage to stand in front of the class to raise the discussion.

I feel very fortunate to be part of something so important because I believe this kind of class can be a way of ending intimate partner violence.  The students now will have knowledge of what dating violence is in a relationship and that knowledge will give them greater wisdom and confidence in choosing a partner, in choosing their relationships, and it’s something they can definitely share with others.  Our youth community benefits from this discussion on many levels in terms of open access to information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, respect for self and others, and improved public health and economies.

After discussing relationships, students actively participated in role playing activities relating to what we covered.  Participants had 10 minutes of preparation after which they presented their skits in front of the class.   The role playing was very popular with both the participants and the audience.

One of our guest speakers was a Philippine Red Cross representative who presented on the importance of donating blood.  It is my hope that the students will have the courage to donate blood in the future.  For every one donation up to three lives are saved.  After interacting with the students I feel each of them is a hero in the making and that they will be the ones to save lives in the future!

Following the Red Cross presentation we were joined by Ms. Grace Mansilla, R.N., a professional registered midwife who delivered the lecture on sexual and reproductive health and rights.  The students learned about family planning and preventing STDs.  Ms. Grace also got the students involved with a condom demonstration game where students practiced the proper way of putting on a condom which is the best method for preventing STDs.  Everyone enjoyed trying to get it right!

At the end of Ms. Grace’s discussion we then played a version of the popular American game show, “Jeopardy.”  The quiz show brought all the day’s learning together as the students competed with their knowledge to out-best each other in answering tough questions all related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights.  All the questions were answered correctly which can only mean that the students truly listened to what we discussed in the lectures and activities that day.  All the winners and participants received prizes for their efforts!

I believe that Alay Foundation’s program connected with the students on a very real level and I look forward to working with youths about their sexual and reproductive health and rights in the future.  It seemed to me that the youth are in transition from one period in their lives to another and are filled with questions that need answers.  Human sexuality is complex and information and resources deserve to be made accessible to young people.  We will be reaching out to other youth populations in our area.  If you are a teacher or educator in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija and would like for Alay Foundation to come speak with your students about human sexuality  and reproductive health issues facing them , please contact our office at +63-917-726-5362.

Lights, Camera, Action…Alay’s June Events

Pizza giving donations to participants in our filming.

Field Notes from Rizza M. Paray.

Alay Foundation will be releasing a series of videos in the coming months to highlight the need for our programs. The filming took place June 13th and 14th during our blood drive and sexual reproductive health class.

There was lots of preparation before the actual filming.  We spent many days traveling to different places looking for possible interviewees for our videos.  In the barangays of  Kita Kita and Sto Niño 3rd we identified a pregnant teenager,  a mother of multiple children, a first-time mom, a Barangay Health Worker, and a caretaker of a child who lost their mother while giving birth.

We are thankful to community leaders in Barangays Kita Kita and Sto. Niño 3rd for their cooperation in helping us identify community members in their barangays for our filming.  

We were given the names and addresses of the interviewees and set out to find them.  We introduced ourselves and our project and spent lots of time learning about each family that was participating in our filming.  We had a short talk about what would be done on filming day and answered any questions anyone had on the film itself.  We went over the kinds of questions that would be asked to help prepare them to share their stories.

Weeks passed and it is already our big weekend! The filming crew who came from Manila were kind and approachable :) We would like to thank them for all their hard work that weekend.

During filming on June 13th, we conducted interviews, filmed footage of our blood drive with the Philippine Red Cross, and documented the launch of our educational outreach program with the debut of our sexual and reproductive health class, called “Let’s Talk About Sex.”  

During filming on June 14th we conducted interviews and filmed footage  in Barangay Kita Kita and Sto Niño 3rd.  We filmed in community centers, community member’s homes and along the countryside.  There was so much on the agenda for filming weekend that we didn’t think it could all be done. But we worked together with our volunteers and all the people who helped Alay Foundation prepare for our events and the weekend was a success!!!
Thank you to everyone who helped make our weekend events possible.   :)

The Busy Month of June

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!

World Blood Donor Day Blood Drive in San Jose City

Field Notes from Rizza M. Paray

Alay Foundation held a Blood Drive, in honor of World Blood Donor Day, on June 13, 2015 with the cooperation of Philippine Red Cross. It was a very busy day.  Not only were we conducting a blood drive, but we launched our education program with a class on Sexual and Reproductive Health called, “Let’s Talk About Sex.”  While all of this was happening, we had a film crew there documenting events and conducting interviews for an upcoming fundraising campaign.  

Prior to our June 13th events, Alay Foundation staff spent countless hours promoting the Blood Drive in the San Jose community.  We printed flyers and had some tarpaulins printed and hung up in San Jose City, especially in the city proper.  One of the tarpaulins was hung beside Plaza Leonor and the other, along the Public Market.

I would like to personally thank the volunteers who helped us give out flyers in San Jose City, despite the hot weather.  Their hard work helped to make our event successful.    :)

Alay staff also went to City Hall to inform the Barangay Leaders about Alay Foundation’s Blood Drive and other programs because they have the means to reach more community members.

We also addressed letters to Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Army and Peace Action and Rescue with Dedication to Serve the Society (PARDSS) to invite them to our Blood Drive.  Thank to all of those who showed their support by attending our Blood Drive.

On the day of the blood drive, with help from the kitchen staff at the canteen near Plaza Leonor, we prepared snacks to be given to the blood drive participants.  Thanks to the kitchen staff for taking the time to help us.  :)

Alay Foundation had 70 participants at our Blood Drive, and collected 36 blood donations. Thirty-six bags of blood may not seem like a lot, however, that can save up to 108 lives! It is also a 45% increase from our November Blood Drive!!  :)

Thank you to all our staff, volunteers, partner organizations, and participants who made our blood drive a success.  

Field Notes: Pagibang Damara Festival of San Jose City, Part II

Photo:  Dianne Castelo, Communications Associate and Office Manager, Alay Foundation, located in San Jose City, the Philippines

Article written by Dianne Castelo

I joined Alay Foundation less than a month ago and while I am already enjoying my work immensely it is also challenging me to take on a more public role communicating the Foundation’s mission and programs to people of all walks of life.  I believe God had a hand in providing me this position and I am confident that I will grow and change in so many beneficial ways, both personally and professionally.

One of the first tasks I encountered on the job was putting together and organizing Alay’s participation in the Pagibang Damara Festival trade fair in San Jose City.  Unlike other booths at the fair we were not selling wares of any kind.  Rather, we were sharing with the public Alay Foundation’s programs and services for the community.  The Foundation is woman-centered and offers many benefits for those who will be planning their families, are interested in reproductive health issues and education, and, of course, for those who will be able to use Mary’s Child Birthing and Women’s Center to be located in San Jose City, serving all 38 surrounding barangays. 

We spoke with many people at the fair and explained some family planning concepts with them such as the role of spacing pregnancies two to three years apart for the optimal health of mother and child, as well as the importance of prenatal care and nutrition before, during, and after pregnancy.

While there are many options for safe and effective modern family planning methods, a number of women still choose traditional methods such as periodic abstinence, the rhythm method, and withdrawal because they fear ill effects on their health from modern contraceptives.  However, with the exception of total abstinence, traditional methods are actually less effective than modern contraceptives and modern methods are completely safe.

We used our laptops to deliver presentations on family planning, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections to small groups of people that formed at our booth.  All in all, our presence and community outreach at the Festival was successful! 

As Alay Foundation’s Communications Associate, I am looking forward to planning and promoting our upcoming events such as our June 13th Blood Drive.  Be sure to come out that day and support us.  Tell your friends, family, and colleagues that donating blood is 100% safe and it SAVES LIVES.  Each of us can be a lifesaver – all it takes is one person and one donation at a time.

Get the Facts About Giving Blood

There are some myths about giving blood, such as it is unsafe and you can get diseases.  This is NOT true.  The Philippine Red Cross will be drawing and collecting all the blood.  Needles are DISPOSED of after ONE use.  New and sterile needles are used for every donor.

Cataract and Cleft Lip Surgery Update

On May 13, 2014 Alay Foundation, in collaboration with our fellow organization KDF, hosted our first event: Free Catartact Surgery Screening and Reading Glasses Distribution Day. Patients were also screened for free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries and new prosthesis fittings.

Alay Foundation saw a total of 555 people, gave away 199 pairs of eyeglasses, scheduled 97 people for cataract surgery, 5 people will be fitted and given new prostheses, and 4 people scheduled for cleft lip and cleft palate  surgeries which have been completed along with follow up visits. See pictures the families allowed us to share with you on https://www.facebook.com/ASBNS

Cataract Surgeries are still being completed and Alay Foundation has been and will continue transporting patients to KDF facilities for their scheduled appointments. So far we have completed 45 cataract surgeries and have 52 more to go. Two patients have been given their new prostheses and we are waiting for four more to schedule their follow-up appointments. All in all, progress is being made and we are committed to getting patients to their scheduled surgeries.

KDF, is a local Philippine charity that has been working in our neighboring region, Pampanga, in the Philippines since 1987. They provide disability programs and maternal and child health programs. Alay Foundation has been warmly welcomed by KDF to the community of dedicated volunteers and professionals working to help alleviate the suffering of the poor in the Philippines. KDF has taken Alay Foundation under its wing and will be providing us with advice and help that only an organization with experience such as KDF can give. You can find out more about KDF and the work they do on their Facebook page:    https://www.facebook.com/KapampanganDevelopmentFoundation .

We look forward to working closely with KDF in serving the community by helping to raise the standard of healthcare for the poor in the Philippines.