Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teresa Quinawayan: Bringing Health Services to the Poor

By Marya Salamat

MANILA — Ma. Teresa R. Quinawayan, 27, is a licensed midwife, a young mother to four-year-old Paula and a devoted though strict sister to her siblings. Her family lives in Navotas City where her parents strive to support the family by fishing

As a midwife, Teresa, or Tere as she is fondly called by friends, can handle normal deliveries and suturing perineal lacerations. She has nursing aid skills and is capable of providing care giving services. She wants one of her sisters, a high school student, to take up midwifery, too, so they could open a small clinic in their community in Navotas.

As a member of the Council for Health and Development (CHD), a nongovernment organization that aims to develop the capacity of people’s organizations to set up community-based health programs, Tere works in its Field Assistance Unit. Part of her tasks is to “provide trainings and organize medical missions.” This was what she described in the affidavit she made for their petition for habeas corpus. Tere also helps out in implementing projects being undertaken by their member community-based health programs (CBHPs).

Tere has gone to Batangas, Morong and Mindanao to help their member CHBPs in conducting health trainings.

She is one of the 43 health workers still detained at Camp Capinpin as the Court of Appeals junked their petition for habeas corpus. Mary Grace, her younger sister who always visits her there told Bulatlat that every night, Tere is worried about their plight, especially of her fellow community health worker who shares her cell. Tere wrote in her affidavit that Bernadette, her fellow health worker from Mindoro, is often being taken out for interrogation till the wee hours of the morning.

“Her daughter Paula misses her so much,” Mary Grace told Bulatlat. Paula has seen her mom very briefly, four times, since Tere was jailed last February 6. Each time, Tere, despite normally being cheerful and tough, was in tears.

“Our father is angry at what the army is doing,” said Mary Grace. “Are they insecure?” she quoted her father as saying. Their mother’s vertigo seemed to have worsened since Tere was imprisoned.

We hope they (the military) would free my sister and the rest of the 43 health workers soon,” said Mary Grace, who has put her high school studies on hold since her sister was jailed because she alone in their family could visit Tere regularly and help out in needed errands for her legal case. “My Ate (elder sis) would doubtless get angry at me when she learns that I have stopped attending my classes for a while,” said Mary Grace. But she says she has asked her teachers for support. The teachers seemed to have agreed to allow her to take special tests.

“The interrogations and threats continue,” said Tere in her affidavit. “I asked the interrogator what do they want from us and he told me that we belong to a group of NPA and that some of our companions were armed… I am very afraid and I know that this fear could affect my disposition and mental being. I fear that when I would be released from detention I would be killed.”

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Justice for the 43!