Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Going around it

Language has always been the most difficult part of my stay here in Ilocos Sur. As I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs, I don’t understand a world of Ilocano, much less use it.

I knew that I could have been more effective if I speak and understand Ilocano. Sometimes, I get really frustrated because I cannot get my message across to patients. Like how in the world could my interpreter, usually a midwife, explain to a patient, in Ilocano, that the improper use of antibiotics can give rise to resistance? Or that an aortic abdominal aneurysm is usually caused by atherosclerosis and that it can rupture anytime?

In fact, there are activities that I cannot implement in the barrio – like mother’s class, or lectures on several health programs – for very obvious reason. It would be entirely pointless because the older residents in the upland barangays barely understand Filipino, much less English, and those 2 are the only medium that I will use. It’s like speaking to a blank wall and for them, it’s like watching a Chinese movie. If I wanted to implement this, I would have to ask my staff to speak for me and that is all against my work ethics – doing thing myself.

As I was doing my consults in the first two months, I realized that the younger population in this municipality speak and understand Filipino more than the mature population – because they are more exposed to TV and they already use Filipino as medium of instructions in school. I figured, why not focus on this group? Besides, my FLCD (that would be Family Life and Child Development) degree could be put to use here.

And so I did.

Today has been one of the most fulfilling days since I got deployed here. I gave an audio visual presentation on healthy lifestyle to the elementary students of the Alilem Central School. It may be hard to imagine, but brushing of teeth and wearing of slippers is not a basic need for some kids here. For them, basic would include only food because they only earn enough for that. So my AVP included washing of hands, brushing of teeth and wearing of protective gears. And thanks to my friend Poy and her officemates, each kid was even given a set of toothpaste and toothbrush, kiddie size of course.

For the first time, it felt like my message was getting through. I kind of missed my pre-school teaching days too. But most of all, I realized that you never let one obstacle stop you from getting to your goals. If you can’t get through it, why not go around it? If I can’t be understood by mothers, then why not their kids?

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