Susan Opas, PhD, CPNP is a nurse practitioner from Woodland Hills, CA. She is volunteering for Project HOPE for one month in Tapaz, the Philippines, an area devastated by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013. Susan is helping with the health care needs of the community and assessing women’s health needs for a possible future program.
My first week in Tapaz ended with the official opening and closing ceremonies of the municipality’s 2014 Bayani (Heroes) Challenge - Gawad Kalinga (the work of caring). Many volunteers and local barangay (village) captains gathered in the Tapaz Civic Center for the kickoff to a three-day renewal and restoration post-typhoon. The renewal activities included local school refurbishing - painting many classrooms and outside walls; roadside clean-up; health care initiatives including dental extractions and half-day children’s programs led by local secondary and college students.
More than 30 classrooms in five schools were newly painted. Hundreds of children in each of six barangays played games, drew pictures and received treats. The closing ceremony was Monday where I was honored for my presence in Tapaz by being asked along with Rosemary Gardose, the mayor of Tapaz, and Philippine Army General Quiapo to judge several dozen rice dishes.
Both Mayor Gardose and General Quiapo expressed to me their sincere gratitude for the continuing support of Project HOPE’s post-typhoon recovery mission. Although many municipality citizens are still rebuilding, the area has returned to near-normal activity. Thus the purpose of my mission is to explore the potential for developing a collaborative, more sustainable public health/midwifery initiative to improve the safety of home births and potentially strengthen support of the elderly population. During the next week I will be meeting with the mayor and municipality officials responsible for health and welfare and health care finance. I will be joined by Project HOPE volunteer Maria Vacarella, a Certified Nurse Midwife who will remain in Tapaz until early July, working alongside the local midwives and gathering data to support Project HOPE’s continued role in Tapaz.
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