Throughout this entire practicum we have been looking forward to visiting the Aeta community in Barangay Matag-ub. The Aeta people are indigenous Filipinos, who are known for their curly hair and dark skin tone. They were the sole Filipinos before the Spanish colonization. The Aeta are nomadic, meaning they move often and rarely live in the same location. In order to get to the community we travelled via tricycles, took a 20-30 minute hike up a tropical mountain, and crossed a river. The terrain, at times, was difficult to trek through because the rice patties were very slippery, as evidence by Shawn’s muddy pants. We were amazed by the beautiful scenery, and felt that this was the epitome of community nursing!
When we arrived in the community we were taken on a hike to the location where the Aeta retrieve their drinking water. It was a 10 minute walk through the forest, across more rice paddies, and several bamboo tree bridges. The bridges had broken and often no side rails testing our stability and required team support. We found this difficult carrying nothing, let alone that the Aetas community members have to carry water while tackling this course!
At the community chapel in Matag-ub, we implemented IMCI with the help of the students, and socialized with the children. In the afternoon we went on home visits within the community. We assessed the health needs of the families and gave appropriate counseling and health teaching. Also, we noted that several families shared a communal toilet facility which consisted of a hole dug in the ground near their homes because the houses were to small to accommodate. When assessing and counseling the families we thought of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and how our main focus was to assist these families to meet their basic needs, food, water, shelter, and clothing. Despite, their lack of resources and wealth they were consistently welcoming, had smiles on their faces and even treated us to fresh BUKO. A nursing student explained to us that even if Filipinos are lacking, they are always wanting to share and give, which sometimes is a burden. Being in this community, it really made us reflect upon what we have, what we should be thankful for, and lessons we will bring home.
The Aetas people had many issues that the clinical instructor, Miss Maebelle, and St. Paul University nursing students are trying to address. The most prominent issues needing to be addressed include the garbage disposal method, water supply, sewage disposal method, sanitation, and lack of resources such as shoes. Financial restraints are linked to many of the listed concerns because they live off the land and for many the only source of income is selling handmade brooms. To illustrate, a majority of children do not wear shoes because their family can not afford them. A common health problem in the community is intestinal parasites which are picked up by the children from the soil they walk on. Also, access to care is a major problem in the community which is being targeted by the St. Paul University faculty and students. They have developed a rapport with the community and are working with them to implement programs along with IMCI. St. Paul University is in the process of raising funds to buy proper toilet facilities and supplies for the community. This was a great example of community development and making these resources sustainable. At times we found it difficult when we encountered a situation where they were unable to afford treatment, and we had the money in our back pockets. However, through our cultural orientation and immersion we soon found out that giving them money, is not helping them because it is not sustainable. By educating, counseling, commending, and working with the Aetas people, we can opt for sustainability with in the community.