By MARY LOU MARIGZA
Children should be given food that make them grow, glow and go. If their nutrition is lacking, they will not grow to be adults or if they do grow they may not be emotionally, physically and intellectually fit, healthy and strong. Our labor force would be papatay-patay and nation building will suffer in the process. All parents would produce ill childrena and the cycle would go on to produce a weak population. Eventually, we would be spending more for medicines and health care instead of putting these limited resources for development or education or infrastructure or food.
It is in this light that Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti Amianan (Kaduami), a service NGO for Northern Luzon attended to the nutrition supplement for school children in Pinsao Elementary School. With the help of AKAP BATA and DSWD, Kaduami sourced food supplements for 125 children who were considered malnourished by local health standards. Kaduami partnered with Ornus (Organisasyon dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili iti Syudad) who was organizing the community on the basis of various issues affecting the urban poor in the city. The project started last December 2011 and hopes to see an increase in the weight of these children by the end of this school year. Rice fortified with iron is given to the children along with nutritious viand.
It should be noted that malnutrition and poverty are twin problems. Although malnutrition occurs even in rich households when junk food is the major source of energy of the family, it is mostly poor families who suffer from this malaise due to the non-availability of food on the table. Teachers of the malnourished kids in Pinsao interviewed narrated that the children go to school without proper breakfast or have only eaten noodles before going to school.
Pinsao has a population of urban poor who provide menial and contractual labor for the city. The parents of the children do odd jobs to make ends meet and to provide food, shelter, clothing for their families. The parents of these children were organized to provide assistance in cooking and serving the daily meal supplement. They also plan the daily meals to provide variety and nutritious food.
It is to the credit of the parents of Pinsao that even those parents whose children were not included in the list to be given supplemental feeding have volunteered to cook and assist the program. These parents realize that healthy children become healthy adults. Cooking is done on a rotation basis so parents can help cook at least once a week. The parents also aid to make sure the children are clean seeing to it that they wash their hands before eating, and by washing the eating and cooking utensils later in the day.
The elementary school provided the room where the meals are cooked as well as some utensils while the barangay helped with one stove and big pots. The barangay council gave their consent to the project and have helped with the implementation. A teacher was assigned to oversee the project and assist the parents and Kaduami.
UNICEF also gave children’s toys and educational materials like basketballs, sipa, badminton sets, to the school for the use of the children of Pinsao that was donated to the school. Additional materials and supplement was sourced from local business establishments and institutions. For Christmas gifts, Saint Joseph Drug gave the children toothbrushes and toothpaste; Laser Marketing provided school supplies like pencils and colored papers; Saint Louis Girls High School gave clothes, food items and toys; Victoria’s Supermarket provided spaghetti; Mr Ching of Baguio Palace Hotel treated the children to a spaghetti and chicken merienda. The donations provided by these businesses were more than enough for the children of Pinsao and some were brought to Alaska, Aringay, La Union, another service area of Kaduami for the Paskuhan program.
Then the class of Ms Agnes Mariano of Brent International School saw the pictures of the children’s feeding program. The high school (by our standards) students of Ms Mariano have since then provided an every Monday afternoon merienda in addition to the Monday meal.
Apart from visiting the children every Monday, they have played games with the kids, provided study materials to the school and provided the children with complete sets of bowls, spoons and fork and cups. They would play with the children and shower them with prizes like pencils, crayons and story books. The ates and kuyas from Brent have become friends of the children of Pinsao. And the assistance does not end here. Brent has agreed to continue to work with Kaduami in an area in Magsaysay, Loakan for another feeding program with Ornus.
The feeding program does not stop with just giving food supplement. Packaged in the program are study sessions for the parents and teachers on nutrition, health, human rights and discussions of issues affecting the parents, the school and the children. We hope the children would become healthy and strong after this feeding program. # nordis.net