The children with an educator during one of their morning study sessions– one of the educational services offered in the center.

In this time where isolation is imperative for survival, Sweedie Grace Supapo of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Home for Girls (HFG) tries to battle the status quo. As a Nurse for 4 years at the facility, she tries to be available every day to the residents/clients. Despite the restrictions brought by the pandemic, she tries to attend to the health needs of the clients, following the set protocols.

“Despite of all the challenges, being here in the shelter brings me comfort,” Sweedie shared when asked as to what her drive is despite the COVID threats. “Being here actually makes us feel like we are home. This job is what keeps us going” Marissa Garay, HFG Center Head, added.

A month ago, everything was put into halt as COVID hit the facility. Worried of the possible effects to the children, the staff tried to address the concerns and tried controlling their own anxiety, and instead they used the time on modifying the learning skills and other activities at the shelter.

Ms. Marissa Garay shares her daily routine in the shelter; navigating through the papers while monitoring the progress reports of the residents.

“With this modifications, we were able to focus on each children’s needs and at the same time, on the workers as well” Ms. Marissa said, as she highlighted that the modification was carried through without jeopardizing the quality and impact to the children. With passion in their eyes, Marissa and Sweedie emphasized that this pandemic should not hinder what was lined up for the children for the year. “These children needs these interventions; we have witnessed their progress. This is their home; we have to make it one,” Marissa added.

As the facility aims for a more holistic approach on teaching children about independent living, integrated learning such as Homelife Services, Education Services, Health, Psychosocial Services, Livelihood, Community Preparation, Spiritual Enhancement, and Recreation Activities were modified depending on the child’s needs and capabilities.

Earlier this year, the facility renewed its Level III accreditation. “It means a lot to us; to the staff and most especially to the children, because when our facility excels, we excel too,” Marissa and Sweedie shared. This success paved a way for opportunities to all the staff most especially to the house parents. Not just for a more defined and concrete interventions but as well as better facilities, and more competency trainings for the staff.

Marissa, as the Center Head, analogized their teamwork into a boat where a single effort can never make it afloat or move. “As a leader, I cannot help but keep on thinking on how I can keep this boat afloat where everyone is safely on board. But then, a sole effort can never make it. We have to work as one; and the result of this collective effort is also evident on each child’s smile. I think this is what this pandemic has taught us,” Marissa added, noting how this pandemic has long tested them and the facilities’ resilience.

Just like Marissa and Sweedie, in these trying times, people sometimes tend to succumb to helplessness and fear. But if people would look using the lens of love and compassion, everyone can together make their boats float no matter how unsteady the waves are.

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