ZAMBOANGA CITY, THE PHILIPPINES – – As the Philippine military waged an all-out war against separatist rebels in Southern Philippines, Hope for the Nations, a Canada-based non-government organization (NGO) also waged another war, a war against intestinal worms among preschool children in day care centers in Mindanao.
Hope for the Nations, an NGO based in Vancouver, Canada with extension office in Southern Philippines earlier turned over hygiene kits to Bethel Day care Center in the Village of Upper Calarian to benefit 100 preschool children through the WASH Day Care Center program.
(WASH stands for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, a program of UNICEF.) The simple turn over ceremony was held at Bethel Day Care Center with the presence of UNICEF WASH Section Head, Samuel Treglown, who flew from Manila, and City government WASH Technical Working Group members Darick Fabian and Gerde Reyes.
The WASH in DayCare Center Program introduces three interventions to prevent child-related diseases. These interventions are daily group tooth brushing, daily group hand washing and twice a year, deworming.
Hope for the Nations and the City government of Zamboanga through its Technical Working Group also forged a partnership where Hope for the Nations will provide the Hygiene kits to identified day care centers and the City Government will monitor the progress of the WASH in Day Care Program.
Hope for the Nations is also preparing to turn over another set of hygiene kits to the village of Mampang, one of the villages caught in the war when 400 separatist rebels stormed Zamboanga City that displaced more than 100,000 people.
Tancho Baes, Hope for the Nations Executive Director, said that personal hygiene among preschool children is part of their organization’s advocacy and they see WASH in Day Care Centers Program of as the best avenue to co implement the program.
97% of Filipino preschool children suffer from dental problems and 67% of them are also suffering from intestinal worms and these are caused by poor personal hygiene. The WASH in Day Care Centers aims to prevent child related diseases and one of the millennium development goals that is to achieve universal primary education.
The City government of Zamboanga has a total 282 day care centers with more than 12,500 day care children who are 4 years old and below. The City government through Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar is looking into the possibility of introducing the WASH in Day Care centers to be introduced to the 98 villages in the City.
Hope for the Nations is an NGO based in Canada and has opened an office in the Philippines. It aims to transform children at risk to become children of change.
By Noel T. Tarrazona Philippine correspondent for Reyfort Media Group