When we recently launched Gota de Leche’s new outreach programs in other provinces, we came to realize several vital things. Chief of these is the importance of having local partners.
For over a century, the country’s oldest charitable institution has realized its vision-mission because of help extended by volunteers, professionals, and local and international partner organizations. While the drive and intention has been there all along, fueled by the passion of Gota de Leche’s founders and officers, we couldn’t have done it on our own.
Gota’s feeding program in Manila follows a schedule and itinerary that include feeding, milk rations, educational, dental, medical, and hygiene (de-worming and de-lousing) services on a weekly basis. Regular weight monitoring and quarterly check-ups ensure the young beneficiaries stay on track of becoming healthier, and receiving proper nutrition for optimum growth. Apart from helpful volunteers from FEU NSTP students, dental and medical professionals, and our own medical team, our weekly programs go smoothly thanks to our solid partnership with Likhaan for our Malabon and San Andres day care centers. The meal packaging event sponsored by Hershey’s Philippines and Stop Hunger Now Philippines enabled us to expand our reach beyond Manila.
Unfortunately, the needs of undernourished, impoverished kids are not the same everywhere. When we reached Iloilo, we discovered that the local day care center we partnered with had to gather at the side of the town’s chapel. They had no structure of their own to house the feeding. Quota International is our partner for the Iloilo outreach. With their assistance, cooking the meal packs prepared at Gota de Leche and cleaning up after became tasks for both the day care center teachers and mothers.
Guimaras was another story altogether. With no electricity and no running water, cooking the meals and preparing the milk became a special problem. It was also alarming to see some of the kids falling asleep at their desks, too tired and undernourished to stay awake to learn new things. The obvious calcium deficiency required milk rations at least twice a week, since the kids there need it more. Our partners from the JCI Regatta of Iloilo and the tribal leaders of Barangay Katikaty of Guimaras saw to it that potable water needs are met, and that the Gota de Leche system of documentation, service provision and monitoring is implemented.
The help provided by Quota international, the JCI Regatta, Likhaan, and the local leaders, teachers, and parents is truly invaluable. These partners speak the language of charity, forming a bridge where miscommunication is a real possibility. They make it possible to expand the reach of our vision-mission, and make our programs more efficient and the impact much better. We learn from them, as much as they learn from us. Gota de Leche is honored to be partners with all of them.