Students wash hands before school lunch
Wearing bright orange vests with nursing identity logos, girls and boys in more than 50 elementary schools in the Muslim Mindanao Region in Sulu Province in the Philippines are public health heroes. These children, from 4th to 6th grade, are trained by local Philippine Red Cross representatives and school nurses to perform a variety of tasks to improve first aid and health conditions in their school communities. They also help to serve daily lunches cooked at school by voulunteer Moms under Asia America Initiative's "One School, One Family" nutrition and peace building program. Most of these mini-nurses, now numbering more than 500 in Sulu, are planning a career in nursing and other health professions. They perform diverse tasks such as putting bandages on fellow students, conducting anti-malaria campaigns by keeping school yards clean and eliminating stagnant water where mosqiitos lay eggs, teaching fellow students how to properly wash their hands and brush their teeth. Living in the Pacific Ocean Ring of Fire area plagued by volcanoes and earthquakes, the little nurses are grouped into skilled teams of emergency aid providers at each participating school.
When AAI began assisting Sulu State College to train a mere 50 impoverished students to complete nursing school, we had no idea how the overall public health program in Sulu would grow!! In 2014, less than 40 percent of license exam takers passed their tests. AAI set a simple goal of helping 50 young Muslim women achieve their goal to become Regisered Nurses to assist their communities. Today, more than 200 young ladies and gentlemen have earned their Registered Nurses professional certification under our assistance program. The most recent license group includes a perfect one hundred percent of successful national exam takers from Sulu in June 2018. Our approach is to build a generational cultural attitude of progress. We are targeting results over a ten year period rather than simply intervening for one or two years. Today's mini-nurses are tomorrow's experienced health care providers.
Health conditions in Sulu have continued to deteriorate due to natural and man-made calamities. During the months of July and July 2018, the Sulu area is experiencing a clean water shortage and shortage of electricity due to political management issues. In addition, flooding caused by severe rains have hindered water filtration and caused unsanitary conditions in flooded public streets and schools. In addition to funding from Global Giving donors, AAI was able to secure a donation of soaps that is much needed by elementary schools in the communities we serve.
"The mini-nurses program is a wonderful example of what we call Child-to-Child mentoring in our schools," says Province Department of Education head nurse Shareen in the Sulu Department of Education headquarters. "We have profound appreciation of the assistance from Asia America Initiative and their GlobalGiving donors whose loyalty allows our program to continue to grow and provide previously unthinkable public health services to our communities."
Monsoon floods in Sulu June 2018
Munting Nurses teaching first graders to wash hand
AAI water containers purchased with GG donations
Simple water system for hand wash hygiene
Emergency response training
Munting Nurse Esprit de Corps