pop goes the world: it takes a village

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 25 October 2012, Thursday

It Takes A Village

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

Said to be an African proverb, and famously used as the title of Hillary Clinton’s 1996 book on her vision for the children of America, the phrase refers to how collective action in  behalf of the children of a community is required in order to raise them, indeed in some cases ensure their survival.

Anthropologists have described how some African cultures, such as the !Kung, bring up their children in a communal setting, sharing effort and resources to nurture them physically (by providing food, shelter, and protection) and mentally (through socialization, children learn their culture’s norms, values, and methods of survival).

The !Kung people, or Bushmen, of the Kalahari desert of Namibia, Angola, and Botswana. Image here.

There is an emotional component as well. In a culture where children are free to wander in and out of the homes in the community, where they are certain that they will be fed and given a bed in whatever home they end up at night, they will feel loved and safe.

In modern society and its emphasis on the nuclear family, this method is no longer practiced as such except in certain activities such as education (in general, children are schooled in groups) and charity work.

For charity work to be successful, volunteers are needed to get things done – kindhearted people who take an interest in the concerns of needy children and are moved to make a positive contribution to their lives.

We find many examples of volunteerism in the activities of charitable organizations and companies practicing CSR (corporate social responsibility).

One such initiative is the Tahan-Tahanan halfway home for pediatric cancer, chronic illness, and organ transplant patients who live outside of Metro Manila.

Located at the East Avenue Medical Center and funded in part by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, the facility opened its doors on Valentine’s Day 2011.

The young patients are cared for by EAMC’s multi-disciplinary Pediatric Oncology team, headed by physician Ma. Victoria M. Abesamis and comprising pediatric oncologists, nurses, psychologists, teachers, parents, and volunteers.

Tahan-Tahanan patients with their caregivers and nurses. Also with them are PCSO general manager Atty. Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II and Dr. Marvie Abesamis (in floral print top).

Tahan-Tahanan patients and their caregivers receive free board and lodging in safe, clean, and home-like surroundings. The facility also has playground equipment and age-appropriate educational toys.

To encourage patients’ development and to make their stay pleasant, the children are engaged in a comprehensive enrichment program that provides play and study activities such as arts and crafts, sports, music, theater, dance, and home-study.

Skills training is also given to the family members and caregivers.

Since it was established, the PCSO-EAMC Tahan-Tahanan program has helped 638 patients. Much of its sustainability as a program is due to the selflessness of volunteers.

As part of the PCSO’s 78th anniversary celebration this month, the children of Tahan-Tahanan were treated yesterday to a party at the facility, where they were entertained by volunteer performers.

Garie Concepcion (who came with her mother, Grace Ibuna) sang “It’s a Wonderful World;” Brazilian model Lua (who is fluent in Tagalog), sang “Nandito Ako” and led the parlor games; Dayloe Ranario of the cast of “Teen St. Pedro Calungsod: The Musical” told the story of the Philippines’ newest saint; and Stauro Punongbayan of Rotary Midwest-Diliman gave a short talk on earthquake preparedness. 

Garie Concepcion (daughter of actor Gabby Concepcion) sings.

PCSO general manager lawyer Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II and jazz musician Boy Katindig spoke to the children about the value of courage in the face of adversity.

The situation was especially poignant for Katindig, who revealed their family’s fight with cancer – his father died of the disease, his sister is in remission, and his daughter is undergoing chemotherapy – hence his support for the mission of Tahan-Tahanan. 

Boy Katindig with the Jollibee mascot. In the background are Lua and “Teen St. Pedro” cast member Emer Greengon, the event’s program emcee.  

The children were bright and cheerful. They participated in the games, sang and danced with Lua and Garie, and correctly answered Stauro’s questions about the story he told them. They are children just like our own, except that they are suffering life-threatening illnesses.

They belong to our village, our community. They, and others like them, deserve our help.

* * * * *

Volunteers are always needed at Tahan-Tahanan. For more information on how to help, or on admission requirements, call PCSO’s Minette Fernandez of the Special Projects Department at (63-2) 846-8879, or EAMC’s Maggie at (63-2) 928-0611 loc. 711 or visit eamc.doh.gov.ph. *** 

Tahan-Tahanan photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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