The birthing center where I volunteer as a midwife has several outreaches intended to make it easier for women who would otherwise have difficulty accessing care to get regular prenatal check-ups right in their neighborhood. The one I have attended most frequently is in Isla Verde, a slum neighborhood with a large Muslim population and a Badjao settlement. The streets are narrow and crowded with people, children playing, tricycabs and bicycle taxis.
We do our prenatal check-ups in a somewhat makeshift clinic in the covered “carport” in front of the home of Charlyn, a Filipina whose family moved to Isla Verde to minister to the people there.
We come to Isla Verde every two weeks and usually have between six and twelve prenatal patients show up each time, almost always including several new patients.
Most of the Badjao patients who give birth with us get their prenatal care at our Isla Verde outreach as they cannot afford to pay for public transportation to come to the birth center for checkups.
Our prenatal clinic is only a very small part of Charlyn’s ministry; she hosts other free health care clinics and regularly organizes medical teams to visit isolated mountain villages in rural areas as well. You can see more pictures of the work she’s doing on her NGO’s Facebook page.
Isla Verde is right on the edge of the ocean. Around the corner from Charlyn’s home are shanties on stilts above the sea water, which is a mass of trash and unidentifiable sludge.
The Badjao village is built out over the water with narrow wooden walkways from house to house.
The streets are full of children and they all LOVE to have their picture taken. Pull out a camera and they’ll start posing and yelling, “Ako! Ako!” (Me! Me!)
I showed these boys the pictures on my phone screen as I took them and they delighted in making silly faces and then laughing at them.
You can’t help but smile.