The Official Publication of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines

Generating a New Wave of Youth Leaders

Written by Tricia Carmona (Kabilin)

Welcoming Batch Kabilin. VYLH-Philippines held its first camp in Western Visayas last April 9-10, 2016 with youth participants from Negros Occidental and Panay Island provinces. In photo: the new volunteer youth leaders in  their cultural attire.

Picture this: We are living in a nation where young people can thrive and pursue their passions. They are well-educated and are taking charge of their lives. They empower themselves and the people around them, making them great leaders and parents in the future. 

This is the change our country badly needs right now.

Hence, an organization named, Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines (VYLH-Philippines) conducted its first regional camp in Western Visayas with the theme, "Revolutionizing health promotion through youth participation", held on April 9-10, 2016 at Bacolod Pavillon Hotel. The event hosted 39 delegates, majority of which are college students from different universities and colleges in Negros Occidental and Iloilo.

VYLH - Philippines is a network of pro-active, service oriented, empowering, and visionary leaders equipped with knowledge and skills in mobilizing the youth towards a healthy Philippines. It was formally established in 2009, through the collaboration of the Institute of Human Genetics of the National Institutes Health-University of the Philippines Manila, the Department of Health (Republic of the Philippines) and The UPLB Genetics Society, a student organization of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Since then, the network has trained more than 600 volunteer youth leaders coming from almost 200 youth organizations from various parts of the country. 

This organization aims to promote awareness about the ongoing health issues in the Philippines and to encourage the youth and public to take necessary actions to prevent debilitating conditions such as preventable birth defects, as well as infant death and mental retardation from congenital metabolic disorders detected through newborn screening. The network also enjoins the youth and the public in promoting awareness and supporting Filipinos with rare or orphan disorders.

During the Western Visayas Camp, the lectures from senior volunteer youth leaders, and team building activities facilitated by the network gave significant takeaways which could be applied in daily life. Here are a few:

  • Health should be the right and responsibility of everybody. The cliché statement, “Health is wealth.” is best felt when someone becomes seriously ill. Therefore, people should be given access to quality and affordable healthcare. Aside from these they should be made aware of necessary pro-active and preventive interventions. For example, a couple planning to start to family should ask for preconception health consultation and take folic acid as part of their supplements in order to lessen the risk of neural tube defects. On the other hand, a pregnant mother has to save up and avail of PhilHealth, so she could suffice her child’s needs such as newborn screening. This is an important preparation for the out-of-pocket costs of expanded newborn screening. 
  • Do things out of passion. When people do things out of love and passion, the formidable tasks become lighter and fulfilling. It also creates a ripple effect on other people that it inspires them to pay it forward.
  • Be stubborn about your goals and flexible with your means. This thought-provoking statement basically summed up the camp’s message to its delegates. Young people have a long way ahead and they have all the time in the world to set goals, commit mistakes and take detours when needed. After all, we learn best from our mistakes and not from our accomplishments.

In the end, regardless of one’s age and socio-economic status, everyone must find their passion and work towards achieving it. It is never too late for anyone to be someone they want to be.

Tricia Carmona is one of the successful applicants and newest volunteer youth leaders from Batch Kabilin. The Western Visayas Regional Camp accepted interested applicants through a standard online application procedure facilitated by the cluster secretariat and approved by the cluster coordinator and adviser. Tricia is a nurse by profession. She works in Bacolod.

Editor: RJPascual

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