Written by Mark Ray Espinoza*
Originally Published in the Diagnosis, the Official Publication of the College of Nursing - Xavier University.
“Taking this opportunity further ignited my desire, and from this I met a wide range of people from co-volunteers to the most respected in the health sciences – a community with unparalleled passion and dedication to the advocacy. This was the time that I realized the feeling was contagious and I’m already infected.” Ryan Pascual, Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH) - Philippines National Pioneer.
The spirit of volunteerism has been adamantly aflame in our society now more than ever. As we side-step the snares of apathy and climb the steps of that lead to the realization of our endeavors, we find ourselves fueled by the passion for service and – the Atenean – Magis. This principle is the lifeblood, down to the very core, of the VYLH.
The Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH) – Philippines, formally organized last July 2009, was the brainchild of Dr. Carmencita Padilla, born out of her faith in the youth and in their infinite capabilities. The former director of the Institute of Human Genetics (IHG) of the National Institute of Health – University of the Philippines, along with her colleagues envisioned what is now known to be VYLH. Through the partnership of the IHG, Department of Health, and the Genetics Society of UP – Los Bańos, the vision is now made into reality.
The VYLH is an amalgam of leaders from the youth organizations springing from various universities and communities in the Philippines power-driven to advocate and promote health concerns currently pervading the society. They are not much different from student nurses conducting Integrating Seminars or those doing bedside health teachings to a patient. Like you and I, they are catalysts of change and development.
The awareness campaign for Newborn Screening and Folic Acid Supplementation is the flagship program of the Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health – Philippines. It aims to increase awareness regarding the importance of Newborn Screening and the advantages of taking folic acid during the childbearing or reproductive years. A more recent endeavor centers on lobbying public support for the urgent passage of the Rare Disease Act, an act addressing the needs of patients with rare, orphan disorders.
Since its inception, the number of volunteers all around the Philippines increased from 73 to 189 – 137 of whom are University-based and 52 of whom are from the community. There are currently 52 schools affiliated with the VYLH, one of which is Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan. Jessa Lorraine Andalan and Mark Ray Espinoza are two volunteers hailing from the College of Nursing, while Cyril Jonas Planilla and Ma. Elena Sevidal both represent the Jose P. Rizal School of Medicine.
Do not let yourself be held captive by shackles that bind you to stagnation and apathy. Volunteers all over the Philippines are now taking the challenge to be advocates. Join the VYLH now. It’s free. All you need is commitment, compassion, and the desire to make a difference.
*Mark Ray Espinoza is a BS Nursing graduate of Xavier Universty (Ateneo de Cagayan University) in Cagayan de Oro. When he became affiliated to VYLH in July 2010, Mark represented Xavier University's College of Nursing Council (CONUS, Council of Nursing Students) where he served as a member of the Constitution Commission (AY 2010-2011).