900 brgy. nutrition scholars attend summit

Around 900 Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) took a break from their assignments for the  celebration of the Cebu Provincial Barangay Nutrition Scholar Association 3rd Summit held at San Fernando Sports Complex last Oct. 2.

The activity’s theme was “BNS Sulong, Malnutrisyon Sugpuon,” which speaks on the importance of the nutrition scholars in every barangay.

The BNS program is part of the country’s development strategy, which deploys volunteers in the barangay to monitor the situation of the nutritional status of children.

Volunteers identify malnourished children through a survey that involves visiting the communities, weighing preschoolers and interviewing parents to find out how they take care and provide for their children.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Cynthia Genosolango welcomed the volunteers by encouraging them to enjoy the activity and at the same time grasp all the knowledge that they can learn.

“Let’s continue to be the primary soldiers in our fight against malnutrition,” she said.

Richel Antigua, BNS president from Bogo City for seven years, said that it is very rewarding to serve for the improvement of the barangay’s nutrition.

”Although sometimes we face hardships, we must understand that we are volunteers and it is our devotion to deliver,” she pointed out.

In the world of volunteers which is dominated by women, a male standout proved that gender is not an issue in serving.

Joseph Chavez, president of BNS organization in Bantayan Island was one of the very few male volunteers who stood out in the crowd during the summit.

Chavez, 26, said that he is constantly asked why he chose to be a volunteer traveling through pump boats around the islets of Bantayan.

“Pangutan-on ko nganong midukot ko isip volunteer nga gamay kuno mi og allowance, usahay mokuot pa mi sa among kaugalingong kwarta aron mahatud ang serbisyo (I have been asked why I volunteer when the allowance is so small that sometimes we have to spend our own money just to deliver our service),” shared Chavez.

Chavez explained that it is his advocacy to deliver nutrition services in the community. Amidst criticism and discouragement, he has never backed down.

“Tam-is ang pagpanerbisyo nga wala magpaabot og ganti (It is a wonderful experience to serve without waiting anything in return),”he added.

Among the barangay nutrition scholars who were thankful for the one-day activity were Vercede Secondilla from Lapu-Lapu City, Agbon Desiderio of Argao, Aurenita Suralisa of Consolacion, and Juditha Gilboina from Daanbantayan.

It’s my first time to join the summit and I am thankful because I was able to meet new people. This is also a good breather for us who have been working hard in the community,”Desiderio said.

Meanwhile, Esther Escuadro, BNS president of Dumanjug and a farmer managed to establish an active BNS organization in their town.

A year ago, Escuadro was sent out for a seminar in the city as a preparation for the reformation of their organization.

“Nagtuo gyud ko atong panahona nga wala koy angay nga muapil didto kay halos doctors ug nurses ang mga participants (At the time, I thought I had no business to join since I was in group mostly composed of doctors and nurses),” said Escuadro.

She refers herself as a simple mother of five and a farmer in her town, planting crops and vegetables.

Esther recalled that during the second day of the seminar, she was about to give up and head back home.

Nakadesisyon ko nga mopabilin kay dako kaayo ang oportunidad nga akong mausikan kung mouli ko (I decided to stay because I realized the great opportunity I would lose if I had given up and went home),” she said.

She had then returned to Dumanjug full of fresh knowledge and excitement to impart what she had acquired during the five-day seminar.

“Kinahanglan isug ka og kasing-kasing ubanan sa pag-ampo sa Ginoo isip usa ka BNS (You must have a strong heart and faith in God as a BNS,” she said.

On the other hand, University of San Carlos (USC) BS Nutrition and Dietetics Chairman Girlie Libato, one of the speakers during the summit, talked about right nutrition and healthy lifestyle.

Libato also encouraged the volunteers to be the first example of what they teach in the communities.

“They must apply what they learn and what they teach for them to be effective in their works,” the speaker also said.

Resource speakers also include Evangeline Geraldez and Raymund Jade Lauglaug, focal person for nutrition of the Provincial Health Office.

Both speakers have recognized the importance of the volunteers in every barangay.

Lauglaug said, “The BNS plays a big role in the communities because they mobilize, coordinate and implement the nutritional programs of the government hand in hand with the barangay health workers.”

San Fernando Mayor Antonio Canoy and Vice Mayor Antonio Canoy were also present in the occasion as special guests.