Better health, stronger community

“Parang tindahan, hindi mo aakalain na gamutan pala ‘yun.”

These are the words of 32-year-old Michelle Araneta when asked to describe their old health center in Brgy. Pambuhan, Perez, Quezon Province.

“Gawa lang siya sa pawid. Inaanay na ‘yung mga hamba. Hindi rin p’wedeng maglagay ‘dun ng mga gamot kasi mababasa ng ulan dahil butas-butas ang bubong,” shared Michelle in dismay.

The facility cannot even provide services to pregnant women. They needed to travel for an hour or two to reach the town proper and receive natal care services. Michelle even shared how worried the residents are every time a pregnant neighbor travels to the town proper.

“Mahirap ang biyahe kasi hindi sementado ang kalsada. Sa sobrang layo, nakakatakot na baka abutan na lang na manganak sa daan,” she said.

Today, however, Michelle is grateful that their community won’t be suffering these things anymore. They now have a new health center in their barangay implemented through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) under its Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) program.

The Kalahi-CIDSS is a poverty reduction program that aims to improve the delivery of social services in poor communities. Local residents are empowered to engage in the planning and implementation of community projects that would best address their needs. They are trained on proposal development, construction estimates, community finance, and project maintenance to help them manage their proposed sub-projects.

Deciding for the greater good

In the implementation of their Kalahi-CIDSS project, Michelle was elected to lead the community volunteers. They are allotted with PhP795,051 grant to cover the operations and construction expenses of the health center.

To ensure a smooth implementation, Michelle holds regular meetings with the volunteers, checks all the transactions of the canvass and procurement of materials, and monitors the construction. With all these, she shared she barely has time for her family.

A housewife, Michelle said that she had little time to do household chores. It became her routine to do the laundry at night, with flashlight clipped on the top of her head, just to ensure that her two children and husband will still have clothes to wear for the following days.

Her husband, Edgar, on the other hand, was upset with this situation. They fight over Michelle’s choice of sacrificing some duties at home just to volunteer for the community. But Michelle kept on convincing him that she’s doing this for the greater good of their barangay.

“Lagi kong sinasabi sa asawa ko na ilang buwan na pagsasakripisyo lang naman ito kapalit ng pangmatagalang ginhawa para sa barangay,” Michelle said.

Much to her surprise, as days passed, their quarrels ended. Edgar even supported her and helped in the construction of the health center.

Last June 2015, their sacrifices paid off. They have successfully constructed a 52-square meter health center, completely furnished with medical equipment. A lying-in space was also provided for the pregnant.

As a result, barangay health workers are on duty every day and a midwife has scheduled a once a week visit in the center.

Teary eyed, Michelle shared her relief from having a new health center.

“Malayong malayo na siya sa itsurang tindahan. Masaya kaming lahat dito sa Pambuhan dahil nagkaroon na kami ng maayos na health center,” she shared.

Grateful beneficiary

Also a beneficiary of DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program for three years now, Michelle shared that it would be easier for them to comply with the health conditions of the program with the nearby health center.

For Michelle, complying with the conditions of the program will ensure that they receive their complete cash grants while her children’s health is always taken care of.

“Malaking bagay ang 1,300 pesos na natatanggap namin buwan-buwan pambili ng mga gamit sa school ng aking mga anak. Dagdag ipon din ito para sa pag-aaral sa kolehiyo ng mga anak ko balang araw,” the proud mother said.

Also a parent leader, Michelle is glad that many other Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries in their barangay will benefit from the Kalahi-CIDSS-constructed health center. This made her feel that she’s right in her decision to volunteer and give her service for the community.

With all these, Michelle is delighted that they have replaced the old, worn out health center they had for years. From now on, they will be availing medical services inside a new and functional one that the whole community will benefit from today and the years to come. ###