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Camp Hope, Alfonso, Cavite

RIMM (Rotary International Multinational Manila), with the committed support of its multi-national members from Australia, Japan, the US, and the Philippine, is focusing on assisting indigent communities that are struggling to be self-sufficient with year-round basic needs/support provided they are willing to work with their volunteer barangay (local village) health workers in monitoring their choices of family planning methods available to them to prevent unwanted pregnancies that are so prevalent. Such support largely consists of educating the women about available family planning methods. Women, unless discouraged or forbidden by their partners, generally prefer birth control pills with injectables being the second choice. Reliable sub-dermal implants are generally not preferred because of claimed side effects. Filipino men generally refuse to use condoms which is largely also the cause for the rapid spread of venereal diseases such as HIV.

RIMM has further adopted a squatter camp site consisting of 14 families and 75 people, calling it Camp Hope. As part of the government’s family planning efforts women are obliged to visit the local barangay health center once a month for family planning education and desired assistance. Two of the partnered women had been ligated years ago, one lady is pregnant with her second child and the rest of the women practice family planning.

These families largely came from Mapanas, Northern Samar to Cavite with most never having had the opportunity to attend school. Their primary income is from making tofu which requires that they buy the beans for the women to prepare with the men collecting largely a dwindling supply of dead firewood carried often on their backs from wooded areas as far as 1-2 hour walking distance. Their process of making tofu consists of grinding the soybeans with water, boiling the grounded paste-like soybeans using firewood, and then adding “calcium” which will solidify the paste. Tofu is then sold along streets, in markets and along highways. During the rainy season it is difficult to collect firewood and sell tofu along roadsides, so everyone goes hungry.

In conjunction with the barangay (local village) volunteer health worker, family needs were evaluated along with their request for assistance. 35 persons (13 female ages 6 to 35; 22 male ages 3 to 48) did not have the legally required birth certificates and therefore no true legal standing in the community. Four of the 35, all men 27, 36, 40, 47 years old, are illiterate (cannot read or write) as they did not/could not attend school in Samar. However, they are supporting their families. In close cooperation with the City of Alfonso and local pastors, an attempt is made to obtain birth certificates for everyone with RIMM strongly supporting the project and providing the necessary funding. However, after three months of spearheading this part of the project, only six birth certificates have been issued to date (as of April, 2019) by the authorities. This mirrors the hopelessness indigents often feel in their attempts to better their lives as it would be almost impossible to get “after the fact” birth certificates without the long-term financial support of committed sponsors. Further assistance is being provided for the four illiterate persons to attend special training while also working to support their families.

As pointed out by Camp Hope residents and the volunteer barangay health worker, basic needs further included better sanitation, firewood, rice, staple foods and clothing.

RIMM therefore immediately provided 2 toilet bowls, firewood as well as clothing and slippers for 20 children as some of them walked around nude or semi-nude nude and most did not even have slippers. To assure continued education for the young, eager minds to give them a chance in life, RIMM is also providing for the new school year starting June 2019 the required uniforms and shoes for all of Camp Hope’s day care (5M, 1F), kindergarten (2M, IF), elementary school (5M, 10F) and high school children/students (10M, 10F) along with necessary school supplies.

Occasional additional support missions to Camp Hope and other such camps is also carried out in conjunction with overseas visitors to RIMM and its H.Q. where lodging is available for them. For example on March 9, twelve Japanese, US RIMM and Filipino members and guests visited “Camp Hope”, initially providing an additional 15 kg of rice to each family along with goodies for the children as well as six sacks of firewood and 3 sacks of brown coconuts donated to RIMM from
AWH (Academy of World Healing) for such support and dental hygiene kits donated by assisting Rotary clubs. They also bought and enjoyed the taste of the freshly made tofu. Firewood and coconuts are also provided on a continuing as available and needed basis to this and other groups.

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