March 12, 2018, is the first day of our deployment for the IDPs (internally displaced persons) of Marawi conflict. Protection areas for the IDPs are all located in peripheral municipalities. The initial protection area we are assigned to visit is the town of Balo-i. Of the other nearing town, Balo-i has the 12 and the highest number of protected areas for the affected residents of Marawi.
At first, we took a courtesy call to the Local Chief Executive of the town to present our selves and have the permit for us to visit the protected areas. We had met the Municipal Information Officer as he represents their mayor and the Development Manager Officer from the Provincial DOH Office of Lanao del Norte to provide us a brief orientation on the situations of every protection areas. The local government also lend us one of the health staff who can speak Maranao and also Tagalog to assist us.
The focus of our team is all about the inspection and monitoring of the water system and waste sanitation, therapeutic activities for the children and provision of health educations for adults. Every water source was carefully inspected to prevent contamination to wastes and its availability to avoid causing of intestinal related diseases. We found out that there is a shortage of the water source due to its location being on highland that water pressure is too low to reach water tanks and reservoirs. In case of prolonged water shortage, they can collect and clean water in any potable body of water but still, they need to boil it for about 2 minutes to kill any microorganisms that may cause illness. We also conducted health educations related to proper food handling and waste sanitation. Family planning lectures were also given for the reproductive age group.
One of the activity we conducted that make noise in every corner of the protection area is the therapeutic activities and games. It is very satisfying to hear the giggles and laughs of the children that became a sign that we are close to the goal of displacing them from any stress and depression that war had to give.
From our first deployment, it made clear to us that there are no inhibitions nor limitations for us to provide simple help and assistance. In a simple conversation and listening, they can bring out every hardship that they are experiencing and release the uneasiness they are in. There are so many people who are neglected of simple help. A help that is not costly. For just a simple talk and giving them the feeling of having a person on their back to listen and support them, it will give a big impact for them to move on and to regain the living they supposed to have.
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