To address the health gaps of indigenous Tagbanua from Culion, Palawan, Cartwheel Foundation International (Cartwheel INTL) and development partner Cartwheel Foundation Philippines (Cartwheel PH) recognized the importance of concerned stakeholders coming together to align their vision and determine concrete steps for action.
The first and second sessions aimed to draw out the current and preferred realities of the Tagbanua. Youth and women participants both shared that food supply is often scarce, and access to medicines and service from medical professionals is usually very difficult.
Many expressed that their top priority is gaining access to potable water. They also shared their vision of development for their sitio: a clinic, a local store, a community garden, and houses for all. Ultimately, their desire was for a clean, safe, and healthy community for themselves and their children.
Dr. Momville provided a discussion on the health system established in the municipality. She also presented overviews of service delivery of the municipal offices. There were also additional inputs on family size and planning.
As a final session, the community members and representatives from municipal agencies set their commitments as part of a comprehensive plan. This was a way of following through with concrete steps to address the concerns raised by the Tagbanua.
Almost a year after the health training and commitment-setting, here are what have already been done:
- The establishment of a core group among Tagbanua called Magsaragpun Tagbanua ("A Gathering of Tagbanua") to oversee and manage the grassroots implementation of health and education initiatives within the community;
- The completion of an initial database listing individuals needing civil registration, mostly including families with children enrolled in Alulad IP School;
- The development of learning modules on community health and nutrition, to be used as guide by community workers and leaders during their kapehan or regular community gatherings for discussions relevant to the life of the Tagbanua;
- The setting up of a community garden through the collaboration of volunteer Tagbanua mothers and the Municipal Agriculture Office, to contribute vegetables as ingredients for the school feeding initiative.
Though the steps towards sustaining community health are many, we remain hopeful that indeed it can be done when we come together in the spirit of collaboration and contribute what we can for the well-being of all.
This article also appears on the website of Cartwheel Foundation Philippines.