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Start of a New P&G CSDW Program in the Philippines with World Vision

Karen Rumya & Sheila gsa 2I’m in the Philippines to start a new program to provide clean drinking water as part of a collaboration between the P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) Program and World Vision.  We’re working near the largest Filipino island of Mindanao in the region of Surigao.  Some of the areas in Mindanao are not safe for us to travel because of armed conflict.  In fact, we changed our plans in the last few days because of new hostilities.  As an alternative to our original plan, we’ve traveled to the island of Siargao as our base for the next few days.

Burning boat keith 2The Philippines are an archipelago of more than 7,107 islands so it seems appropriate that we’d be island hopping during our visit.  World Vision works with the local government and local community based organizations (CBOs) as part of their developmental efforts.  By working through local trusted individuals and through a long-term presence in communities, World Vision develops the trust that is needed to provide new interventions like the P&G water purification packets.

Joriz and Irah 2P&G through partial support from the Pantene Healthy Hair for Healthy Water program will provide more than 17 million days of clean drinking water during the next year through this program – that’s 34 million liters of clean water for more than 25,000 of the most vulnerable people living in remote areas with only contaminated water sources.

Billie Abata 2I’m traveling with Keith Kall from World Vision USA and the local team of Jun Gordones, Billie Abata, Joy Mariscal, and Joel Pielago.  Yesterday, we met Hernando, the leader of the local fisherman’s CBO called the Malinao Fisher Folks Association. (MFFA)  Most people in this area either farm (cassavas and bananas) or fish.  When the weather is bad or the fish aren’t biting, then extreme poverty sets in very quickly.  The MFFA is a vital part of helping out in these tough times, and they’ve agreed to be the arms for our distribution deep into the needy communities.

Village 2We walk through the community that the Association serves and see that people here have dug very shallow wells.  Many of the homes have latrines but in this densely populated area, there’s little doubt that sewage from the latrines enters the shallow wells.  We demonstrate how the P&G water purification packets work to Neiri Birol and her family. 

Neiri Birol gsa 2Neiri shares her shallow well with the neighboring house and between the two houses there are 15 children.  They drink a lot of water and try to keep up with boiling water but it takes too long for them to always have boiled water for all the family.

 

Joriz Rumya 2In another home, Karen Runya tells us that the water purification packets are much easier to use than boiling water.  She says that even with boiling, there’s a lot of diarrhea illness in the rainy season.  We’re just at the beginning of the rainy season now in this part of the Philippines and so Karen and her family are very grateful to receive the donation from P&G and World Vision.

 

 

Karen Rumya and Sheila 1 2

 

 

Karen’s daughter Sheila can’t get enough of the good tasting clean water.  She’s clearly very thirsty which isn’t surprising in this very humid and hot tropical climate.  I’m already drenched with sweat and enjoy drinking a lot of the water every time that we do a demonstration.

Well 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next home visit is with Helen Espejon who has an open well that is even more shallow than the last house.  This well is only a few feet from the nearby latrine.  They have limited land and so don’t have a lot of choice.  The water is fairly clear at this point but Helen tells me that the water gets very dirty during the prolonged rains.  She’s also happy to receive the water purification packets and we wait until the water is ready to drink so they can taste it.  Helen says that the treated water tastes like expensive mineral water that they can buy from the shops.

Demo Greg 2An elder man walks up as we’re finishing and asks about the process.  He’s very supportive and particularly impressed that there’s no need to boil water if you use the water purification packets.  We also stop and talk with a local fisherman.  He spear fishes to collect his catch both for his family and to sell at the local market.

Fisherman gsa 2After our initial visits, we need to pay our respects to the local mayor.  Access to these communities is only possible with the permission of the local government, so we stop by to pay our respects and ask permission to visit the communities.   The mayor shows me a map and is very helpful in telling me where there’s the greatest need for our work based on the lack of an existing water infrastructure.  As we leave the mayor’s office, we ask for permission to visit the communities and tell him that we’d appreciate his endorsement and he grants it.

Felix gsa 2Water buffalo 2
 

Based on the advice of the mayor and some reconnaissance by Joel, we pick the village of Magsaysay for our work this afternoon.  A local man, Felix, is happy to give us a tour of the community.  We walk through rice paddies on the way to the shallow wells.  We have to walk around water buffalo or “kalabow” and down some slippery paths to make our way into the fields where the water sources are located. 

I take a nice flop on my butt going down one of the hills but no damage that can’t be cleaned up with some soap and water.  Speaking of soap and water, P&G Philippines has agreed to provide 75,000 bars of Safeguard soap to these vulnerable populations and World Vision will provide soap along with the water purification packets.  It’s the first time that we’ve done this and if it goes well, we’d like to expand to other areas.

Fields 2The communities in the Philippines are organized into units called a “Barangay”.  In small rural villages, each village will be its own Barangay while in larger cities, there will be many Barangays.  And each Barangay has an elected leader who is given the title of Captain and volunteer health workers called Barangay Health Workers.  Captain Alex welcomes us to Magsaysay and invites us to show them the use of the water purification packets.  I lead the demonstrations this morning in order to show the World Vision staff the proper steps.  The World Vision staff reviewed our “trainer of trainer” video and written standard operating procedure prior to my visit, but it helps to see it live before leading a demonstration yourself.  This afternoon it’s time for World Vision to lead the demonstration and they do a great job and I only contribute a few reminders of critical points.

Demo wow 2When we finish the demonstration, Captain Alex tells us that there’s a big need for our work in this community.  He says that people frequently suffer from diarrhea illness.  I ask when the last time someone was seriously sick and they quickly are able to tell me the details of two young children who became so sick they had to go to the hospital.  After staying in the hospital for 4-7 days and being treated for severe dehydration, the children were able to recover and return home.

Helene Antolin tells me that the P&G packets are a very good product because it’s easy to use, the water tastes great, and it’s much easier to use than boiling.  She says that she has to spend more than an hour gathering firewood to boil water and so our donation will be a big benefit to her.

Helene Antolin gsa 2As we prepare to leave, I’m surprised when Captain Alex starts pleading us to bring more packets.  We assure him that we’ll start the distribution tomorrow for the entire community of 1,500 people.

Today has been a good start to our CSDW Program in the Philippines.  As we traveled with the World Vision team, we talked about the need to correctly target the most vulnerable communities that have a specific need for our purification packets.  This essentially requires visiting the communities and walking to their water sources to determine the ones that collect from unprotected sources.  World Vision has the capability and capacity to do this because of their reach into the most vulnerable communities. 

Our next visit will be even more remote, to one of the less developed islands near Siargao.

Thank you, or as they say in the Philippines, “Salamat” for reading!

Comments

Thanks for sharing your visit, Greg. Can't wait to get the Pantene Healthy Hair for Healthy Water pledges rolling in.

Thank you Greg for relating beautifully our fun and meaningful community visits. We are grateful for the partnership and how it's doing good to our poor communities. Looking forward to your next trip. Godspeed!

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