On Friday, we spent time connecting with our staff at Vineyard and learning about their work. When you’re caught up ensuring you visit all these places along the way, it’s easy to forget how integral team bonding is. Having a good relationship with our staff on the ground helps create better communication and transfer of information when our offices are halfway around the world, especially since we don’t pay for our own office space in the Philippines (more information on this in our Tuesday blog). So while it may seem strange that we didn’t visit any projects on Friday, having structured time to bond with one another is actually quite crucial for both our organisation’s goals.

One thing we bonded over a lot the week I was there was trying all new Filipino food. Most food contained rice. My favourite was called Minudo (A curry with potatoes) (see below). My absolute favourite juice was called Kalamansi (see below), which was a tropical fruit similar to a lime, and drunk with cucumber!

Saturday was a real day of reflection. Taking time to think about some of the medical resources and education we saw delivered brought home the importance of the work. Simple things like bandages or tweezers or vaccinations clearly meant so much to the mothers who attended the meetings. The goal for so many was to raise children in healthy, financial stable environments, and so many women we talked to were confident they would die happy if they could fulfil this purpose.

The other biggest medical surprise for me was the teen pregnancy rates I was told about. Whilst teen pregnancy in Australia has been steadily declining since the 1970’s, teen pregnancy and motherhood in the Philippines is on the rise, with 500 teenage girls become mothers every day. Statistics like this really bring home how important INA’s health education and training is.

Saturday was our last day in the Philippines. It was sad to say ‘palaam’(goodbye) to our friends at Vineyard but we know we are leaving the Philippines with the projects in safe hands. We are so grateful to have wonderful project staff who truly care about the work they do.

Thank you for following my week in the Philippines visiting our projects! INA staff travel regularly overseas to see our projects all across Asia and Africa. If you’d like to read more personal blogs from our INA staff as they visit our projects, why not send us a message or leave a comment below? Thanks for reading!  – Preeti

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