While in Janiuay, we spend time with the Ati community in the Matag-Ub area. The Ataes peoples were historically a nomadic group who have recently settled in this area. There is a general lack of social and financial resources, and necessary health services are not always accessible. In order to overcome this problem, community health providers have an agreement with the Ataes to provide services right in their homes and assist them in setting up for and attaining sustainability.
This lack of social and financial resources can also be found in some Canadian societies and we have agreed that ‘going to the people’ rather than having them come to us is admirable. Something to consider.
In order to get to the community, we start by squeezing ourselves into a tiny box attached to the side of a motorbike (locally known as a tricycle), crossing a river by foot, and then spending the better part of the morning slipping and sliding through muddy rice paddies and crossing bamboo bridges- attempting not to fall. We got a good taste of what it would be like to have to trek this terrain to get out to the greater community as well as to reach the only clean source of drinking water.
One of the many bamboo bridges we had to cross to get to their water source
Once there, we visit homes, take vitals, wash children, do general assessments, utilize IMCI, perform health teaching, and try and get to know the people a little bit better by conversing about traditional beliefs and practices (through the use of creative body language and the translation provided by the Filipino nursing students). One interesting practice is eating a certain type of fruit that is believed to help with the baby’s immune system before it is born. This fruit dyes the teeth red, which is viewed as a sign of beauty.
After spending the days providing health care and learning about these traditions we arrive home to our nipa hut, covered in sweat and dirt, completely thankful for a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and cold water from a tap.
Lerissa, Elaine, Brooke, Sharaya and Leah with children of the Ati Community