Knowledge is Power
Forty-one-year-old Jennifer Solaño has been happily married to fisherman Elbrando for 22 years and is a loving mother to her three daughters. They live in San Francisco, a coastal barangay of Isabel, Leyte.
San Francisco is reached by a 10-minute ride by a pump boat (small motorized boat) from the town of Isabel when the weather is good, followed by a 30-minute ride by a habal-habal (a 5-seater motorbike). During bad weather, San Francisco is accessible only by a habal-habal.
Jennifer has been working as a barangay health worker for three years, but is constantly trying to improve her knowledge and skills. So when the opportunity came along, she was thrilled to join the Philippine Red Cross as a community health volunteer and receive training in the participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation (PHAST), implemented with support from the Netherlands Red Cross.
Following her PHAST training, she is facilitating hygiene promotion sessions to raise awareness with her neighbours. She is happy to share her newly gained knowledge with people in her barangay and contribute towards improving the health outcomes in the community.
When her daughter fell sick with diarrhoea, she put her knowledge to practice. She prepared and gave her a mixture of salt, sugar and water to prevent dehydration.
“Even as a barangay heath worker, I didn’t know about the homemade oral rehydration solution (Oresol),” she says.
Before, when my children had diarrhoea, I had to make a trip by boat to get to the Municipal Health Centre just to get the ready mixed Oresol powder. I never thought that using sugar, salt and water can save my daughter from dehydration.”
When Jennifer’s daughter got better, she looked for the volunteer who had taught her how to prepare the homemade solution and thanked him.
“If it wasn’t for the PHAST training, I would still be making trips by boat to go to the Municipal Health Centre asking for help every time there is a case of diarrhoea”, she says.
Jennifer now is an active facilitator of PHAST. She is happy to be a community health volunteer and promote good hygiene practices among her neighbours, especially other mothers.
“From the PHAST training and my experience I learnt that awareness is important, powerful, and more valuable than any of the material things.”