HEALING DAVAO CITY’S LAST FRONTIER

By NATHANIEL A. VILLANUEVA


(March 9-12, 2010) Sitio Mangani, Barangay Tapak is still part of Davao City but it took the Medical and Monitoring Team from downtown Davao City more than 5 hours aboard the dump truck and another 4 hours of arduous trek to reach this remote Ata-Manobo-Matigsalog community, passing through Panabo City and part of Davao del Norte Province to reenter Davao City again.

FIRST STOP: SITIO BUTAY

Sito Butay is the last stop for all 4-wheel vehicles. The 36-member medical, dental and monitoring team arrived in Sitio Butay at around 11am after travelling from downtown Davao City just before 4am aboard the Davao City government dump truck.

In Sitio Butay, the monitoring team from MISFI (Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc.) inspected the Wellness Center MISFI built in 2008 as the community’s center for health training, first aid application and establishment of herbal garden, while the team from SALT-RD (Science and Alternative Technology for Rural Development) inspected the community’s Level II Water System and Solar Dryer that MISFI built in 2008 that SALT-RD is presently maintaining.

NEXT STOPOVER: SITIO LABO

After taking lunch in Sitio Butay, around a dozen residents from Sitio Mangani and even from farther Sitio Mirol-o met the team to help carry its medical and food supplies and start the long, muddy walk just after noon. The team arrived in Sitio Labo at around 3pm.

In 2007, MISFI donated to the community a rice/corn mill and corn sheller and built a warehouse for it and also built a community wellness center and solar dryer.

After arriving in Sitio Labo, the MISFI and SALT-RD team informed the leaders of the community’s organization that it will monitor the progress of its project interventions and it will also conduct a medical mission after its visit in Sitio Mangani.

FINAL STOP: SITIO MANGANI


The team finally arrived in Sitio Mangani a little before 5pm. Around 50 residents from farther Sitio Mirol-o were already there to welcome the team. These residents walked for 2 hours from their community to avail of this medical and dental mission that rarely occurs in this part of Davao City. More are expected to arrive the next day.

As there is no electricity in the community, the team initially prepared the venue and materials for the medical and dental mission the next day. The community offered their sitio hall as the team’s “operation tuli” venue and medicine dispensary as well as one of the team’s sleeping quarters while MISFI’s Wellness Center in the community was to be the other sleeping quarters as well as the registration and consultation area. The collapsible tent that MISFI donated to the community was also set-up nearby the sitio hall and designated as the venue for the dental mission.


Since 2007, MISFI donated to the community a wellness center, rice field turtle and collapsible tent. As Sitio Mangani is also part of the many communities in Davao City that experienced countless evacuations due to recurring armed confrontation between government and rebel forces, MISFI also gave trainings on Conflict Management, Community-based Disaster Management, Psychosocial Therapy for parents and children, basic health skills for community health workers, basic and advanced conservation agriculture training for farmers and basic training for community-based teachers for pre-schoolers.

Early morning the next day, the team gave a brief orientation to the community of the medical, dental and monitoring mission. Understandably, the residents from far communities were given first priority. There were even residents from neighboring Bukidnon province that availed of the medical and dental mission. The medical mission was spearheaded by CBHSA (Community Based Health Services Association) with Dr. Lynne Redoble as its team leader while the dental mission was spearheaded by TFPCDI (Tribal Farmers Center). At the end of the day, 141 patients availed of the medical check-up and received more than 1,000 tablets and bottles of medicines while 26 children were circumcised and 27 teeth extracted.


Also on that day, the SALT-RD team monitored the financial standing and management of the hand tractor, rice-corn mill and corn sheller by the leaders and members of the community organizations of both Sitio Mangani and Sitio Mirol-o while MISFI monitored the progress of its pre-schoolers in Mangani and Mirol-o and interviewed some applicants for community-based teachers for the next school year.

Incidentally, MISFI also donated a rice-corn mill and corn sheller in Sitio Mirol-o and assisted in building its warehouse and also built an adjoined school building and wellness center in the community.

2nd MEDICAL & MONITORING MISSION: BACK TO SITIO LABO

Just after sunrise and quick sip of coffee, the team headed back to Sitio Labo for another mission. The team arrived in Sitio Labo after 1½ hours. After taking breakfast and setting up at the community’s primary school building, the team immediately started the mission. At the end of the day, there were 126 residents who availed of the medical check-up and more than 1,000 pieces of tablets and bottles medicines dispensed, 10 children circumcised and 10 teeth extracted.

Also on that day, the SALT-RD team also monitored the financial standing and management of the rice-corn mill by the leaders and members of the community organization and inspected the warehouse, wellness center and solar dryer while MISFI monitored the progress of its pre-schoolers and interviewed some applicants for community-based teachers for next school year.

FINAL TREK HOME: MIXED EMOTIONS

Early next day, the team bid farewell to the residents as it started the 2-hour trek back to Sitio Butay and headed home aboard the dump truck. Along the way, the team stopped by Sitio Panaga to check on its Water System project there and also stopped by Sitio Surayan to visit its adjoined school building and wellness center and monitored the progress of its pre-schoolers there.

In the team assessment held after arriving in downtown Davao City at around 3pm, outpouring of emotions from team members began to fill the room; self-fulfillment, happiness, disgust, desire to serve more, etc. There was self-fulfillment among a lot of the medical team members as they are already registered nurses and yet it was their first time to serve in far-flung communities. It also somehow convinced them to serve the people in remote communities who truly need them rather than the self-serving and government-sponsored concept of working abroad. It was doubly happy for them to see the happy faces of people who have availed of professional medical care for the first time. At the same time, there was also that feeling of disgust and awe that in spite of the rapid advancement in medical technology, there are still communities in highly urbanized cities that are untouched by professional medical care.

MISFI has served these far-flung communities in Paquibato since five years ago. Sadly, it only takes the recent ELECTION news report of the “taxing” accessibility of Barangay Tapak, for city officials and downtown city dwellers to take notice of the sad state of this last frontier of Davao City.

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