By VINCENT RASALAN
The Olongapo Experience
August 2016, the Olongapo City Medical Society established the first program for the Bulilit Health Workers in the City. The first partner school is Banicain Elementary School. It is one among 17 primary public schools in Olongapo. Barangay Banicain is one of the oldest villages in the city sitting across the Naval Shipyard of the Old Naval Base. Before the Second World War, the area used to be a center of trade among fisherfolks and small farmers. It was part of the Province of Bataan until 1948 when the former US Base expanded and reclaimed swampy areas in the Western part of the present Olongapo City.
Presently, the Barangay is a home to several small and small scale businesses in the city as well as residences of people from other provinces. Fishery and agriculture significantly minimized and more marginalized as urbanization progressively expanded in the area.
Forty pupils from Grades 5 and 6 were randomly selected as participants for the program. Before the end of the year, they were able to finish all the 12 modules facilitated by the members of the OCMS, and were able to participate in their first ever Bulilit Health Workers Summit at the Edgardo Umali Hall, San Jose Batangas.
The first year of the Bulilit Health Workers for the OCMS proved to be both a period of testing the waters and exploration. For the first batch of bulilits, the experience was enriching. For the members of the OCMS who taught them, it was enlightening – and challenging nevertheless.
Year 2: Launching The Teen Health Worker Program, Continuing The Gains Of The Bulilit Health Workers
On its second year since the Bulilit Health Workers Program, the OCMS expands its scope for high school students. This time, the program is moved to a private school in Barangay West Tapinac, Olongapo City – Little Angel Study Center.
While the regular program for the Teen Health Workers are conducted, continuing enrichment activities are maintained for the Banicain Elementary School, being the pioneer school of the Bulilit Health Workers. It also paved the way for initiating cooperation with neighboring chapters such as the Bataan Medical Society, whose President Dr. Orly Bugarin extended his expertise as resource person in a CPR Workshop for the bulilit.
During the 2017 BHW Summit, the OCMS-Bulilit and Teen Health Workers earned several recognition and awards including a top place in a return demo of emergency management of epilepsy; 2nd place for Poster Making Contest (teen category) and 3rd place for the bulilit category.
The Local Government of Olongapo City have cited these achievements of the Bulilit and Teen Health Workers and the OCMS. On some of the activities such as the Annual Tree Planting, Medical Missions and Blood Letting Campaigns, the presence of the kids is starting to get the attention not just within the OCMS but more so of the community.
The Promises Of The Coming Years
The culmination of the first two years of the Bulilit and the Teen Health Worker Program of the Olongapo City Medical Society and the Philippine Medical Association is a promise to be fulfilled in the years to come, should the succeeding OCMS Board wish to continue the foundation layed in the first two years in the City. There were difficulties at the onset, but these were expected and promptly addressed. Hectic schedules, as well as getting the knack of health teaching among young minds proved to be challenging but nonetheless, a strong organizational commitment can only overcome these obstacles.
The willingness of the children to learn is a continuing inspiration for every physician who taught them, inspiring them back with stories of humble beginnings and success in the end. Success though at this point is seen by some with the awards and recognitions these children receive. But wisdom teaches us that the only concrete translation of success is through public service. While at the same time helping them grow into responsible, health-conscious and transformative individuals. # nordis.net