Living in the mountains means favorable access to abundance of natural resources, cool breeze of air, and supplies of root crops and vegetables. Dumagat tribe’s origin is the same as Aeta’s in Northern Luzon or the Negritos which are the earliest inhabitants in the Philippines. Though it seemed beautiful to live in the hillsides, its topography is also a culprit for many diseases like cough, colds, diarrhea, skin diseases and lack of nutrition.
“Due to the kind of weather that we have here, my children always get cold. My eldest son had to stop schooling due to frequent fever. It’s very difficult when someone living in the mountain got sick. Aside from the difficult terrain in getting down the village, we could not afford the medications. Most of us, members of Dumagat Tribe, died without even seeing a doctor,” Mary Jane Dela Cruz narrated.
“A lot of changes happened to my children since Operation Blessing came to help our community. Aside from the Here in the mountain, our staple foods are cassava, boiled banana, kamoteng baging (hand vine) and anything available in the forest. Worst days, we are sleeping without putting anything in our stomach. But through Operation Blessing’s Bless-A-Child program, my children were able to eat nutritious meals. Before they were all underweight but now, I am so glad that they had an increase in their weight,” Mary Jane continued.
Their daily need for survival makes them neglect to teach the basic habits that are important for the children to learn such as brushing and cleaning their bodies before going to bed. But with the Operation Blessing’s holistic approach, Dela Cruz siblings gained knowledge about taking care of their bodies and being responsible sons and daughters. Aside from that, through the intervention of values education, kids in Sitio Kabuhuan, Brgy. Puray, Rodriguez Rizal have been introduced to faith and salvation.
“Lagi kong ipinagpapasalamat sa Diyos ang pagtulong na ginagawa ninyo (Operation Blessing) sa amin, kasi kung kami lang hindi talaga namin kakayanin. Ayaw na naming matulad sa amin ang aming mga anak,” Mary Jane gratefully stated.
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