From the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals: A Global Call to Collective Action

The Millennial Development Goals, or MDGs, established fifteen years ago sought to eradicate extreme poverty in all its forms.  Along with 189 countries, committed philanthropists, NGOs and other stakeholders came together to address basic social and economic inequalities across the globe.  As a result of their combined efforts the following achievements have gone a long way toward advancing human progress and addressing the needs of people across the globe:

  • Today, people living on less than $1.25 per day has been halved resulting in 700 million fewer people living in extreme poverty  
  • Primary school enrollment has increased by half and in developing countries enrollment has reached 91%  
  • Globally, people receiving treatment for HIV has increased 15 fold while newly acquired infections fell by 40%
  • 2.6 billion people now have access to safe and improved water supplies
  • Child mortality has been reduced by more than half around the world…… still, 11 children will die every minute from preventable diseases until our work is complete

The world is seeing whole communities, whole countries delivered from poverty.  Economic instruments such as microfinance have allowed men, and women especially, to pursue entrepreneurial business and agricultural ventures to sustain themselves, their families and their communities.  Technological advances, like mobile phone technology, are opening the digital virtual classroom for midwives to learn the latest technologies for safe and joyous deliveries while also expanding midwives’ ability to respond in time to the urgent needs of their expectant mothers –  saving lives in the process. Human progress has moved forward with great momentum because of the foundation for growth the Millennium Development Goals built.  We had a plan.  We had a map.  We had qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure our progress.  And, we succeeded in many areas.  Near and dear to our hearts is our work in the Philippines where we find it to be one country to take a look at in terms of progress, achievement, and the work that remains to be done when we begin to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

There has been mixed progress on the MDGs for the Philippines.  Deaths from malaria  and tuberculosis have declined significantly.  However, the Philippines remains 1 of 7 countries where HIV is significantly on the rise, particularly among young adults.  The use of modern methods of contraception has decreased slightly over time between 2006-2011.  This decrease in the use of contraception not only exacerbates the HIV prevalence and prevention of the disease, it leaves Filipinos vulnerable to contracting other communicable STDs.  Access to universal primary education has increased although retention and graduation rates remain, along with the quality of education, lower than desired.  Sexual and reproductive health and rights education as mandated by the Reproductive Health Bill (also known as the Responsible Parenthood Act) lacks uniformity in its application and in full participation by all public schools who are required by law to provide students with information about their bodies, their rights, and their choices.   

Much of the slow progress the Philippines is experiencing is due to the island archipelago nation’s frequent natural disasters. The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world  ranking third according to the World Risk Index, a report published by United Nations University.   Many in the scientific community attribute the country’s vulnerability for natural disasters as a direct result of climate change.  This unique challenge has  slowed and even reversed much of the MDG progress in the country and has hampered our efforts to achieve goals concerning maternal mortality.  

Maternal mortality continues to be very high at more than double the MDG target of reducing maternal mortality to a maximum of 52 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015.  Child mortality has declined by two-thirds, although neonatal deaths have only slightly been reduced because many women still do not have access to skilled birth attendance in a facility.  Inextricably linked to maternal mortality is the neonatal mortality trend.   Carrying one’s pregnancy to term and giving birth are the most vulnerable moments of a woman’s life.  While child mortality between the ages of 0 to 60 months has improved, maternal and neonatal mortality have stagnated at wholly unacceptable levels.  Great efforts at sustaining the young with nutrition, immunization, and disease prevention have secured the health of the young.  However, the fact remains that still too many Filipino women are giving birth without skilled birth attendance and are not accessing the birth facilities available to them.  

This assertion, however, does not account for the many more women living remotely, or without financial means, who do not have access to facilities.   Barriers to care are not limited to access and economic reasons alone.  Culturally, Filipino women and their families may have relied for generations on local women attendants at birth.  The Hilots, as they are known to the people, are experienced but lack education and skill.  They will accompany a home birth with minimal ability to address urgent care needs such as obstructed labor, haemorrhage, and eclampsia – all of which are treatable conditions and are even able to be identified during prenatal care by a skilled midwife or physician.  Further complicating a family’s desire to have the birth in a facility is the custom of some state and private facilities of holding women against their will in the facility until payment for the delivery can be arranged.    

Even with the slow progress the Philippines has seen many advancements in the areas of  malaria and TB reduction, access to, and availability of, primary education, basic sanitation and safe drinking water.  

  As we now mobilize ourselves and our organizations to pivot to and implement the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, we carry on the momentum of the MDGs and lessons learned in the adoption of the new goals that are gathered together as a call to action to end poverty in all its forms, once and for all.  Certainly, it is an ambitious endeavor that will require the commitment of the many nations of the world and their partners and stakeholders to focus their development efforts on the sustainability of our planet.

The SDGs are a comprehensive approach to sustainable living with 17 specific goals and 169 qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure the world’s progress. A most welcome development is the greater attention given to maternal health, including sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) than was evidenced in the MDGs.  This renewed and reenergized focus on SRHR stems from the sheer wealth of evidence that shows access to modern methods of birth control is central to fighting poverty and is solely the most cost effective way to do it.  Poverty cannot be eradicated without properly addressing a woman’s right to choose, control and/or space her pregnancies.  

If the need for modern contraception was met across the globe:

  • Unintended pregnancies would decrease by 70%
  • Unsafe abortions would decrease by 74%.
  • Maternal deaths would decrease by 25%

Access to modern contraception has a positive effect on the lives of girls and women.  Early unintended pregnancies often lead to girls interrupting or discontinuing their education which only reinforces the cycle of poverty for their families and their communities. The truth is that women’s participation in the labor force not only increases with each additional year of secondary schooling but it also increases a woman’s potential income by 15-25%.  These facts alone should make it apparent that decreasing women’s’ barriers to accessing modern methods of birth control is good for the health of societies.

To this end, Alay Foundation is dedicated to improving reproductive health for women and their families in the Philippines.   Alay Foundation brings free SRHR educational outreach classes into the barangays of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija to reach people where they live in their communities.   Along with an adult class, we have a youth-centered SRHR class where Alay Foundation partners with local schools to deliver dynamic and interactive classes to the student participants.  Our outreach efforts are growing and expanding with each classroom full of participants  We are excited as we get our work underway in 2016 and are planning to reach as many in the community as we can.  Please join us in our efforts by visiting our “Support” page.  Your donation of $55 will support the entire cost of one class.  Won’t you stand with us in combatting poverty and providing critical health education?

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.

Population, Development, and Progress

The idea of voluntary family planning and its relationship with poverty reduction may have come of age in the developed world but in the Philippines too often a lack of allocated resources and knowledge about contraception and how to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS prevails.  At the intersection of population and development advocates of sexual and reproductive health and rights struggle against social and political institutions that usurp, rather than protect, Filipino women and girls.

The final report of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals initiative asserts that women who are able to read and write give birth to children who are more likely to survive beyond the age of five.  Basic education is pivotal and empowering in the life experience of women but so, too, is basic knowledge of one’s body and the right to choose if, when, and how many children to have.  These are the core tenets of family planning – that no woman should be denied the opportunity to time and or space her children so that she might be part of the planning in providing for a family.

Unmet need for Family planning across the Philippines remains significant.  More than one-third of pregnancies are unplanned.  They are either unwanted (16 percent) or mistimed (20 percent).  Women want to have their children safely, they want them to thrive.  Having more children than she is able to provide for is heartbreaking and takes a toll on women who are already struggling to feed, educate, and take care of the health care needs of their families.  Having access to voluntary family planning has the potential to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.  Wherever it is, poverty is destructive.  It erodes families, communities, and nations.  Women are central to global development and sustainability.  It is their right to access modern family planning methods and it is the responsibility of governments to clear the way for women to avail themselves of the full scope of sexual and reproductive health care.

This year’s World Population Day theme is focused on “vulnerable populations in emergencies” striking the all too true chord that in times of conflict and humanitarian crises women and girls are the most vulnerable among us.  They fall prey to abuse, rape, and trafficking.  Their access to sexual and reproductive health care may be limited or eliminated altogether.  According to an article from NBC News, in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan 200,000 women were pregnant across the country and 12,000 babies were expected to be born in December alone (the month following the typhoon) – many in places hardest hit by the storm and where health clinics or hospitals were obliterated.  Getting equipment, supplies, and personnel into devastated areas took precious time and much resource.

Crises remind us of the vulnerability of life.  But in times of calm we should not forget how fragile the lives of women and children are and, that given a choice, so many women would time and space their children in order to provide for them and to protect them.  Universal access to voluntary family planning is essential to achieving stable societies and allows people to thrive in life rather than languish in poverty.

An Encounter to Remember

An Encounter to Remember

It’s been three months since I was took on the role of Associate Producer for Alay Foundation’s filming project. At first I was hesitant accepting this volunteer position as I am still studying –  but in the back of my mind I knew the possibilities it might hold for me.  Although my goals once I have finished my studies are to go abroad, the position was an opportunity I could not pass up.  After 13 years of work in the public sector I know now that public service is a part of who I am and that Alay Foundation’s work in the community is yet one more way for me to serve.

I decided to accept this role because I learned that the project has a deeper purpose and is not just routine work to be performed. Meeting with the founder and president, Dr. Guy Sobrepeña, for the first time enlightened me about the mission and vision of Alay Foundation. Knowing that the foundation’s program focuses on women’s health, awakened in me a curiosity for what can I do to help achieve the goals of this filming project. I even asked myself, why was I chosen to be part of the said project? Maybe it has a purpose, a deeper purpose. As I was reading my job description of Associate Producer, I became committed to the responsibilities assigned to me and eventually forgot that this was a volunteer position.

I needed to make a lot of preparations for this job like: arranging my schedule in school; manage my time frame; prepare myself mentally, emotionally and physically as well as assessing my capability on doing my task and be able to give a quality output. Along the way, I realized that being chosen to do the job meant giving my superiors trust and confidence in me that I can deliver output that they are expecting to me.

The experience of going from barangay to barangay in San Jose City was not difficult for me to do as well as coordinating with the barangay officials – my previous work in the public sector saw me performing the same responsibilities. Establishing relationships with officials and the public was very familiar to me.

But after meeting interviewees for our filming project I can only say the encounter was indescribable!  The mothers with so many children to care for and teen-age moms melted my heart as if I was in their situation myself. I internalized what it would be like to be a mother just like them in such poverty.  What if I were in their situation?  How can I give proper health care, education and guidance to my 13 children when I, myself, did not finish my studies and do not have a job? How can I meet their needs and wants? How can I cook a delicious, nutritious, and complete meal for them, if I only have PHP100 for a day from their father’s income? How can I give enough love and attention to each one of them if I have to attend to the needs of my youngest children and still do all the household chores?   How can I be a good mother to them if I myself cannot take care of my body and health?

My encounter with Nanay Perlita and Nanay Lucy of Barangay Kita-Kita was heartbreaking.  Both had experienced the loss of some of their children because they could not provide for their health care needs. As a mother of four, I cannot imagine losing a child. The tears in their eyes while remembering the loss of their children crushed my heart as I tried my best to hold back my tears and to look strong in front of them. I need to do that because as an interviewer I have learned to not get too carried away from the interview. With Nanay Evelyn, I felt great empathy for her. She’s pregnant with her 7th child. Her face is pale; she looks like uneasy; she’s toothless and her blouse is dirty. Obviously, she’s not able to take care of herself.

I find the three mothers are very strong-willed women because they still manage to smile through the tears on their faces, accepting their situations; still choosing to move along with life, devoted to their children and families. They are resigned to what they have become but are hopeful for their children.  Even though they are not able to give them a better life they are seeking help and are hopeful that by being part of our filming project it might help them and their families in some small way.

I understand, now, why I became part of this project because my encounters with the women in these communities has changed my perspective and awareness of my health care needs and valuing myself as a woman.  Equally, I learned from my interview with Ms. Sylvia Ordoñez, (Executive Director of KDF) that health care is a gender issue and that as a woman and mother, it is imperative to have good health facilities where women are able to deliver their children safely.  And especially for those women living in a poor communities, the need for reproductive health literacy is a must and providing them correct information and awareness like family planning are tools that they can use.

After filming our project, I felt that this is a calling for me to help women and mothers by devoting myself to educating on, and bringing awareness of, sexual and reproductive health.   With Alay Foundation’s Maternal Program we have a real opportunity to empower women. I look forward to working with the women in our community and to more unforgettable and life-changing encounters with them. As an empowered woman I believe that, at the end of the day, our health is as important as providing love and care for our children and partners.   I believe that when we make health our priority we are only adding to the security of our families and communities, strengthening both as we do.

 

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!

Women and Men are Partners in Family Planning

The following post is authored by Genna Preston.  She has recently joined Alay Foundation as our Communications and Social Media Specialist

Not only is today the International Day of Families, but today is the day we embrace the unity of families and decision making among both men and women. This year’s focus is gender equality and the rights of children within families. As stated by The United Nations, “The International Day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.”

As we support this year’s International Day of Families, Alay Foundation commits to promote gender equality through community outreach family planning education campaigns.  These community education classes will focus on medically accurate information about modern family planning methods and will encourage both partners to discuss their options and decide together what method works best for their families.

According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), half of the estimated 3.4 million annual pregnancies in the Philippines are unplanned.  Many of these unplanned pregnancies resulted from a lack of knowledge about and/or access to modern family planning methods.  These unplanned pregnancies can come with many dire consequences:

Active participation among both partners in choosing family planning methods is essential for the stability and future of families in the Philippines and globally.  When partners discuss family planning options together, it encourages equal participation and can strengthen the bond between them.

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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.

Field Notes: Pagibang Damara Festival of San Jose City

photo:  Rizza M. Paray, Alay Foundation’s Administrative Coordinator located in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, the Philippines

Article written by Rizza M. Paray

Alay Foundation recently participated in the trade fair of the Pagibang Damara Festival of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija.  We set up our booth just outside City Hall and invited the people to learn of our Foundation’s programs and services.  There was much preparation in the days and hours before the fair began.  We needed a tent and tables, banners and flyers, laptops and chairs, and so much more.  We planned how to approach people and describe Alay Foundation’s programs in order to introduce ourselves to the community.

On the day of the trade fair we noticed how different our booth was from the others who had products to sell such as clothes and slippers, sim cards and bonsai, and, of course, foods.  But we were armed with information and programs designed to serve the people.  It is not everyone who can afford to go to the hospital or a medical center when in need or even just for check-ups.  I realized the importance of Alay Foundation’s mission and how our booth was relevant for so many people, especially the poor and the young who are most in need of family planning, health education, and having access to quality health care in our soon to come birthing and women’s center and all at no cost for the people.  

We struggled that first day in attracting people – but then our manager suggested we have an educational raffle drawing.  We reached out to the crowd with sexual and reproductive health questions on topics of ovulation, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections and other health education questions. When participants answered correctly to our questions they received a raffle ticket for Sunday’s Grand Draw – the final day of the fair.  We continued to distribute flyers and met with many people.  During the Grand Draw all the participants were so excited – but there could only be three winners!  We were very proud of all of the winners and everyone who participated.  But the most important thing was connecting with the community and sharing all the ways we will be serving them now and in the future.

I am happy to be a part of Alay Foundation because through our organization I am able to help people in my own way and see the changes in their lives for the better.  I look forward to seeing Mary’s Child Birthing and Women’s Center helping people in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija.

Midwives Save Lives

Midwifery has been with us, and central to our communities, since the beginning of time when women attended each other’s deliveries, ushering in new life. Through human development, midwifery has come to be institutionalized and professionalized.  This year’s International Day of the Midwife is themed “for a better tomorrow.”  Midwives not only save lives, they provide hope for that better tomorrow. 

The Philippines, a low to middle income nation, is one of 68 countries that contribute to 97% of all maternal, newborn, and early childhood deaths each year worldwide.  2015 is the ultimate target year of the Millennium Development Goals, a broad-based international effort to eliminate poverty and its effects.  Millennium Development Goal #5 seeks to address maternal mortality, reducing by three-quarters the number of women dying in pregnancy, childbirth and the post-partum period.  Sadly, the Philippines will not achieve the target of 52 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.  Instead, 11 women will die each day leaving more than 30 children motherless for each maternal death.

Midwives are crucial in providing a host of reproductive health care services – from family planning that allows women and their families to number and space their children to vital pre-natal care that can identify at-risk pregnancies in time to refer mothers to physicians and facilities that provide life-saving interventions.  Women are not dying from untreatable diseases and conditions during pregnancy and childbirth – they are dying from preventable causes:  hemorrhage, hypertension, sepsis, obstructed and prolonged labor, and complications from abortion.  Midwives are key to providing not only skilled birth attendance but the essential pre and post natal care an expectant mother needs during what is one of life’s most joyous experiences.

Save the Children and the World Health Organization estimate that another 350,000 midwives are needed to reduce maternal and newborn deaths.  Knowing how pivotal women are to human progress, how they stabilize their societies – from nurturing their loved ones to nurturing their economies and their nations in the process – their tragic and unspeakable loss is felt by families and communities  across the globe.

Facility-based births are on the rise in the Philippines as more women avail themselves of pre-natal care with midwives, nurses, and doctors.  Birthing centers that partner with midwives, such as the one Alay Foundation is building, are the community connection to securing the health of so many mothers and newborns.  Our birthing and women’s center is creating programming that effectively promotes and empowers midwives by making available the space, equipment, and technology to assist them in providing for expectant mothers and by facilitating continuing professional development for each of our partner midwives.  Celebrate midwives, today, and for that “better tomorrow.”  They bring forth the future through their dedication, skill, experience, and compassion.

 

Click on the link below to read “Giving Life, Giving Health:  The Role of Midwives”

http://wp.me/p4WSRY-1hD