“The training we went through armed us with empathy.” These were the words of one of the training graduates, Dr. Maria Margarita Fabella, from Cardinal Santos Medical Center.
Training seminars happened from February to October this year with trainees from Child Protection Unit Philippine General Hospital, Southern Philippine Medical Center, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, and Vicente Sotto Memorial and Medical Center. The graduation ceremony was held at Ako Para Sa Bata 2019. They were given their certificates to recognize their participation and their first steps towards ensuring that their respective facilities and agencies are at the forefront of child protection.
Dr. Fabella shared her heartfelt gratitude to her mentors, her fellow trainees, and to the children whose lives and experiences they’ve shared to help her strengthen her resolve towards pursuing further her advocacy. When asked what about her motivations for the training, she shared during a quick interview her thoughts on the training: “Our thrust was really to put a child protection unit in our department. And I volunteered because that was also my advocacy in church.”
When asked about the highlights of the training, she realized that all of these stories are not merely stories but the lives of people, especially the youth who are made vulnerable because of the situations they are subjected to. “It’s not just the stories that you read. They’re stories, that when it’s told by the child, it forms an imprint on you and you carry this experience. And it’s really up to the person if you just want to hear the story or listen to the story and then move on to what you can do and help the child.”
She added that the training was not the end of the road but the first step towards pursuing her advocacy. “Awareness. It should be a 360 action. You put awareness out there and then you put the systems for intervention so that it’s a process that will help empower yourself and empower the victims.”
Regarding her plans for the future, Dr. Fabella said: “We will open the first private child protection unit in the country.”
She added: “We will create awareness among the community that it just doesn’t happen to the marginalized sector of the country. And then also to be able to help schools promote child protection in their vicinity.”
She closed her speech with a reminder to her fellow graduates: “Kapayapaan became our label for everything that we aspire for. An appropriate word indeed for this advocacy we chose,” she said with fervor. “We have important roles to make the system work. […] Let us help push for interventions and engage in services to empower our children, our youth, our parents, our guardians. We have put ourselves in the front line of protecting our children. We have officially joined the growing network of child protection today.”
The ceremony was closed by DOH Undersecretary Dr. Myrna Cabotaje. She started off by updating the audience that the department has increased the services and venues of women and child protection units. She then encouraged everyone to reach out and try to join the fight in helping the efforts of protecting women and children.
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