A community is never a community without people and people of the community will never be people of the community if they couldn’t relate to each other. Eight medical students would go into the community of barangay Molos, Municipality of Tampilisan and help this community in terms of health. But how would you help a community if you cannot relate to them? So, in curing health in the community, one must be with the community. The first trial of these medical students in solving the health issues of the barangay was to relate with the people of barangay Molos, know their culture, know their state, know their profile and above all, be citizens of the barangay.
The first week of being strangers in the barangay was not easy. Even though we had all those formal stuff like courtesy call with the barangay officials and BP check-ups to the senior citizens of the barangay, we still felt like aliens to the area. People would come to us in the health center, the place where we are staying, for BP check-up and no more. We felt like we are treated like office people who are working in the office. They would come in, get what they want like checking of blood pressure, immunizations, and pre-natal check-ups and then go out. It sounds good professionally because that’s what we came there for - to work. But as a medical student in Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU), the vision endowed to us was far greater than office work, a vision far greater than giving the community with what they want, but giving them what they need. We (ADZU) want to help with the health issues of barangay Molos. These health issues, which will be assessed in the days to come, would not be addressed if we cannot get the cooperation from them and cooperation will not be given if you are still “aliens.”
Another week has past and all we did was our “office work” and retire to our house. It will never work out that way. The only way to know the people of the barangay was to basically talk to them. One “hi” led to another, one “good day” led to another and we started talking. From acquainted, we became friends. This time, talking with the citizens of barangay Molos was not anymore about office work. It was about asking them how their day was. It was talking about who stole who’s chicken. It was about knowing whether coconut coal is better than wood coal. It was going to birthday parties like you’ve known them for years. It was feeling like you’ve been living in barangay Molos for years.
The time has finally come to, like all doctors do to their patients, break the bad news. It was time to discuss to the patient the diagnosis. It was time to tell the community the health issues that we found in them and ask for their support in solving these issues. Strangely, our new found friends, the community of barangay Molos never felt the diagnosis bad to their ears. They saw our assessment as a challenge. Indeed, the relationship of friendship is better than the relationship between an office worker and client. If we would tell to them our findings as office workers, we definitely know that they will reject all of them. Who loves being told that their children are malnourished? They all go to school and play like all kids do and yet they are being told by strangers that they are malnourished. All support was given to us by the community members and their esteemed barangay officers. Now, we can help solve the health issue of our second home with full support from them knowing that they are doing it not because of some medical student’s project, but because we know that we are a community trying to achieve a common goal.