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EU and German Ambassadors open Likhaan project on Community Empowerment for SRHR in Metro Manila

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

On February 20, 2023, Ambassador Luc Veron of the European Union and Ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel of Germany walked the muddied and cramped alleys of Sitio Gulayan in Brgy Catmon, Malabon to open the 4-year project, Community CSOs Action for SRHR (CCAS), that Likhaan is undertaking with EU support. The project aims to increase supportive views and behaviors for SRHR in poor communities, particularly among young women, other youth, and community and parent influencers; as well as, the practice of nondiscriminatory and quality SRHR care among staff and decisionmakers of health facilities. The project begins in Malabon, where teen pregnancy has been cited by City Health OIC Officer Bernadette Bordador as an urgent and complex problem, but will spread to other poor communities in Metro Manila.

Before meeting and talking with community leaders in Gulayan, the ambassadors talked with 2 young women and one couple who had their first pregnancy at ages 14 and 15. All the young women have been able to prevent a second pregnancy using different contraceptive methods (implant and injectable) upon the advice and support of parents and health workers. The two young women are back in school, while the couple are both working, with mother and grandmother helping with childcare.

The ambassadors also walked the narrow and winding alleys to observe the living conditions of one of the young women up close. They talked with the mother of one of the young women inside their house. She described their home - a small, all-purpose living room with one table, lighted by one fluorescent lamp and a second floor where the 9 members of the family slept. At the time of the visit, the mother was the sole breadwinner, through laundry work, since a son who was working met an accident and was currently debilitated. She cited that Pantawid Pamilya or Conditional Cash Transfer program was the only support she got from government.

The visit was capped by a short program featuring the signing of a cooperative agreement between Likhaan and the local youth organization, Tinig ng Kabataan – Youth Organization (TINK YO). There were also brief talks by people involved in the project. Likhaan executive director, Dr. Junice Demeterio Melgar emphasized the objectives of the project to produce SMART young people (Sensitibo, Matalino, Aktibo, Responsible, may Tiwala sa sarili) and WISE adults (Walang diskriminasyon, nagbibigay Impormasyon at Serbisyo, at nagbibigay ng Espasyo para sa empowerment ng kabataan). The EU ambassador emphasized SRHR and the need for enabling conditions in the community, while the German ambassador emphasized the need to break the stigma on SRHR which hurt young women the most and the need for the community to galvanize around this. All the local leaders present -TINK-YO, the barangay captain, the CHO, and the presidents of the homeowners’ association of Catmon and the Malabon federation of Barangay Health Workers - pledged their support for the project.

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