Part and parcel of the advocacy of the Sorority to promote and enhance maternal & child health, Milk Matters was established in 2014. With this purpose and having sustainability at its core, Milk Matters partners with communities from around the region. One of the partners in service is Canossa Health and Social Center in Tondo, Manila. Knowing the gaps in knowledge and current practices is important in understanding the needs of the community. By hearing their voices and acknowledging the need for change, Milk Matters conducts public health lectures on exclusive breastfeeding, proper latch-on and breastfeeding positions, and common problems encountered during the lactation period.
“Natutuwa ako sa pag-demo ninyo kasi awareness yun sa mga nanay. Yung iba kasi nahihiya mag breastfeeding kasi ayaw nila mag labas ng ganun sa labas at sa trabaho, pero kapag nakikita nila kailangan pahalagahan ang breastmilk, itutuloy na nila.”
By taking the time to teach the mothers within Canossa, a chain reaction of change in the practices and attitudes of the community of Tondo is created. Ma’am Edna shares that the women who participate in the lectures and listen to the BHWs are able to become positive influences to the mothers and expectant mothers within the community.
“Nakikita nila benepisyo sa isa’t-isa at sa mga bata kaya nagkakaroon ng impluwensya sa iba’t-ibang mga nanay sa komunidad.”
Ounces to Liters
In efforts to achieve sustainability, Milk Matters, in partnership with Canossa Health and Social Center, was able to establish community-based milk storage facilities back in 2014 complete with refrigerators, milk pumps, and sterilizers. The chain reaction of change is not only within the confines of the community but it reaches beyond. Through the milk storage facilities in Canossa, mothers from Tondo are given an opportunity to share the milk they have. Donated milk is brought to PGH for pasteurization, a portion of which will go to the community for the mothers and babies in need and the rest are donated to PGH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Through the efforts of Ma’am Edna, the BHWs in the area, the community doctors, and the members of Canossa Health and Social Center, mothers are given the right to know about their health.
From ounces to liters, the milk that each mom is able to provide, supplies life to babies and gives them a fighting chance for tomorrow. As a mother herself, Ma’am Edna understands the struggles of breastfeeding and the toll it can take on the mother. She shares that she and the sisters of Canossa provide snacks for the moms who donate.
“Naiintindihan ko sila kasi nanay rin ako. Yung maliliit na bagay na pakainin mo sila pagkatapos magdonate, importante kasi yun yung gusto ng mga nanay-- na naiintindihan mo yung pinagdadaanan nila.”
Even with the collective efforts of the sorority, the health center, and the community, problems cannot be avoided. Despite providing the families with the information they need to have a successful breastfeeding journey, personal and financial limitations still exist. Ma’am Edna shares the struggles of the mothers within the community in terms of storage and balancing work.
“Kahit turuan natin sila sa exclusive breastfeeding at sabihan sila na paabutin ng 6 months, hindi pa rin nila ito nagagawa. Ang problema ay pag nagtratrabaho na sila. Pero kahit turuan sila sa pag-express ng gatas, pagdating mo naman sa bahay nila, wala naman mapaglalagyan na refrigerator… Pero hindi hindrance ang pagtratrabaho-- yun ang kailangan namin palakasin pa. Kahit sa simpleng cooler muna na may yelo habang na sa trabaho, makakastore ka na ng gatas.”
In spite of the problems being faced by Ma’am Edna, the BHWs, and the sisters of Canossa Health and Social Center in Tondo, Manila, they make the conscious decision everyday to continue becoming public servants for the Filipino people. It’s time to recognize and join women like Ma’am Edna and the women of Canossa in the fight towards women and community empowerment.
For more information about Milk Matters, please visit our Facebook page (facebook.com/PLDMilkMatters)
In line with our objective to empower Filipino mothers to breastfeed, Milk Matters presents Express Yourself, an online movement that sheds light on the breastfeeding experiences of Filipino mothers, families, doctors, nurses, and other members of society. Our vision is to inspire other mothers to continue breastfeeding through these stories.