Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Of First Times and Some Times

Our brief sojourn for our outreach activity will remain as one of the most unforgettable experiences living a life of a student here. It was especially special because I had memories of some first times and probably throwbacks of some of my related  experiences in the past.

It was not simply the first time that I set foot in San Narciso, Zambales but it was also my first time to see Aeta tribe right under my nose. I was quite surprised though because they are not as what the part of my “book educated” mind expected them to look like physically. I have always read in books that they are short and dark skinned with curly hair, thick lips and pugged nose. I saw that Aeta people nowadays especially in Zambales have been assimilated to the mainstream society and have intermarried with other tribes.

Observing the rice paddies side by side as we entered the sitio, I felt I instantly had a taste of life of our own province. They use water pumps as source of water. However, water pumps are public properties as they are shared by several families. As we passed by, we saw also farmers use the concrete road to dry their crops. It is mainly an agricultural community and people survive mainly by farming. The single motorcycle is also reminiscent of the barrio life. It is the common mode of transportation, if not the kalesas!

It was my first time though to engage in an outreach activity in which the focus is health. I believe it is a timely theme since health is a basic service but most of the time a concern in remote places. I enjoyed how our respective activities closely revolved around health concepts and I learned a lot also from my fellow facilitators. We did the children things like playing different games. We we’re lucky as well that the children taught us how to dance their native dance! I enjoyed participating because that is one way of showing the hosts that we accept them and their culture. It was truly a first time!

Immersing myself with the children, I felt like I had a throwback of my experiences in the past. I used to teach in a remote school in Mindanao for some time where my pupils are even poorer. They are children, so they naturally love to frolic. Some children exhibit vestiges of inferiority complex, so they are shy at the first time we approached them. But eventually, they participated in the activities. Who the kid would not want? We prepared a lot of exciting prizes! Children are always children. I miss teaching the most challenging age group in the world.

Interviewing the teachers and parents about community health and with human ecology in my mind, I systematically got to know the layers of contexts that interplay the health ecology of the Aeta children. Of all the interacting systems, I took note of some of the indigenous health knowledge and practices of the Aeta people. I was not so much surprise with the practice of going to the traditional healer and the use of herbs for healing. I was born in this time and space.

This is my personal illustration of the Health Ecology of children.

As seen above, the health ecology of the Aeta children consists of the child and the contexts. The center of the health ecology is the child. The contexts, consist of layers of interacting systems in a nested arrangement of structures, emanate outward from the center.

Microsystem. The first level in the health ecology is the microsystem. It is the relationship between the developing child and the health environment in immediate setting containing the child. The setting in this ecology is the place with particular physical features in which the child engages in particular activities in particular role as a son or learner.

Mesosystem. The mesosystem comprises the dynamic interactions among various microsystems containing the child. The mesosystem, essentially a collection of microsystems, for children could include interactions among parents and teachers, health environments such as the classroom, school and family.

Exosystem. The next level outward in the health ecosystem is the exosystem. It encompasses other specific social structure such as barangay health assistance, media portrayal of health, health related outreach programs, health concepts embedded in school curriculum and family socioeconomic status, that do not themselves contain the developing person but impinge upon the immediate setting in which that person is found.

Macrosystem. The macrosystem is the broadest level that is farthest from the center of health ecosystem. This consists of the overarching institutional patterns of the societal messages about diet, nutirion and lifestyle, the indigenous knowledge and practices related to health, political programs on community health, and the cultural understanding of people about health.

As I posted on social media, at the end of the day, we took away more than what we brought to them - especially all the memories of first times and some throwbacks that I took away home.

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