Written by Kristofer Ralph Supil, RN (Hiraya, Dumaguete)
Way up north in the island of Cebu, the waves splashed and glimmered from the sunbeams as the second leg of the Visayas cluster camps was about to commence. New volunteers from two regions, from five different provinces, came to grace the occasion. Surrounded by their ates and kuyas for the first time, new volunteers were welcomed in the best way possible, the VYLH style.
The two days in the camp would prove to be monumental in their journey to become leaders in the Philippines. They signed up for something bigger than themselves.
The delegates from the provinces of Cebu, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Bohol, and Siquijor, took part in their very first step in becoming a volunteer youth leader for health. Popularly known as VYLH-Philippines, the organization has been running since 2009, slowly growing in number, and constantly strengthening its network with volunteer youth leaders who have a passion for leadership and health. These volunteers from different parts of the country are currently focusing on three advocacies: the campaign on folic acid awareness, the promotion on newborn screening, and the lobbying of support for rare and orphan disorders. The organization has been successful so far in mobilizing the youth in making a dent, a profound change, in history.
With the efforts of the organizing committee and the support of the Department of Health Regional Office VII (DOH RO7), Newborn Screening Center Visayas (NSCV) and the Institute of Human Genetics (IHG-NIH, UP Manila), the second leg of this year's regional camp to usher in a new wave of passionate leaders was made possible.
This year's camp for Region 7 was held last August 13-14 at Hisoler's Resort in Bogo City, Cebu. Various people came and willingly took part in sharing their knowledge and expertise to the young ones. Genetics Nurse Ms. Aster Lynn Sur from the Institute of Human Genetics in UP Manila, tackled the matter on folic acid awareness and our current situation in the country regarding the support for orphan disorders. All the way from Iloilo City, Newborn Screening Center-Visayas Project Development Officer and registered nurse Meryl Mae Tabaosares shared her knowledge on the Newborn Screening Program. The volunteers highly felt and acknowledged the support from the Department of Health's regional office as well through the Family Health Program Team, spearheaded by Dr. Emmelie Pfleider-Silao, the Medical Coordinator for the Newborn Screening Program, along with Newborn Screening Nurse Coordinators Ruff Vincent Valdevieso and Jaike Jel Besira. VYLH National President Christian Emmanuel Enriquez shared an inspiring talk on the role of the youth in health issues, while the Vice-President for Visayas, Engr. John Paul Oira presented a talk on Social Media and the Filipino Youth Volunteer.
The fun didn't stop there though as they capped off the first night of the camp with the traditional team building activities. For years, VYLH organizers and facilitators have been subjecting their delegates in intensive, rigorous, and more importantly, enjoying activities that enabled the "NewVs" to strengthen their leadership and group dynamics. A great sense of leadership and camaraderie would be very essential after they got out of the camp, and these were qualities that proved to be very much needed and became the reason why the organization had prospered over the years.
As they went back home to their respective provinces, those two days in August would be remembered fondly by the participants. The crusade for making the youth matter doesn't stop here though. Just one of several moments in VYLH that volunteers will be looking forward to again.
Keep the fire burning!
Kristofer Ralph Supil, RN completed his Nursing degree at Silliman University in 2010. He became affiliated to the network in 2015 as part of VYLH’s Batch Hiraya. At present, he is the Health Leadership and Governance Program Nurse and Health Leadership and Governance Program Project Assistant at the Department of Health – Central Visayas Regional Office (DOH RO7).