Greetings from sweltering Palawan!! This has been a long hard summer and we have begun to hope for rain and a little cooling in earnest, gazing wistfully at dark clouds over the mountains that somehow don’t quite make it to the city!
But this has been our busiest summer ever, and May has been a month of tying things up. Our Financial Literacy (FinLit) team graduated one group in Magsasaka, and is about to finish another in Pulang Lupa – and start yet another in Magsasaka. This will be the sixth group to be taught. The FinLit team also chose and trained their first group of Community Financial Advisors, using the Community Health Advocates model.
Joyce Lanurias, who has been head of the FinLit program for the last six months is about to say goodbye, so we have been celebrating her next step with her; she is about to return to graduate school in Manila but we will surely miss her! Fortunately the Fin Lit team has also just welcomed Scheherazaide Pahm and Ivann Polizon!
Our high school teachers, who teach the teens in the communities during the summer, have also had a busy month finishing the summer curriculum in Aplaya and Magsasaka. They taught three different groups, each twice a week, and wound up with a day- long field trip with each group. Our communities are rather removed from the city, and our teens don’t have much money, so many had never been to any of the sites our teachers chose. The sites included the Butterfly Garden and Tribal Village, the Crocodile Farm and Nature Reserve, the City Museum, the World War II Memorial Museum, a local university campus, and Bakers Hill. They were of course treated to a nice lunch and a closing program back in their communities. Most of the teens said they would continue with the group during the coming school year.
The teaching team has just welcomed Joie Go! They are busily getting ready for the new school year which starts in June.
On the community front the clinical staff has been very busy teaching a Maternal Health Class in Aplaya and providing clinical services in all our communities. Even though we haven’t moved into a new community this year the number of contraceptive acceptors has increased by 10%. We currently have 50 mothers-to-be in the Healthy Pregnancy Program.
Marcus has interested all of us in a new idea for the sustainability of the Vertical Gardens program. He has been raising and experimenting with earthworms that create compost (vermicompost). He and Belle recently arranged a workshop on raising the worms for our Community Health Advocates. This was held on the ROH farm, and Gary, our staff in charge of Vertical Gardens, and Marcus demonstrated fixing the worm bed and introducing food. As usual the CHAs received this learning most enthusiastically and many have signed up to be part of the pilot program for this new project!
This month we also welcomed our first intern from Wellesley College, Victoria Rines. Victoria is a Madeleine Albright scholar at Wellesley and will be with us for 10 weeks this summer.
We look forward to June and hope the rains will come soon.