G-Watch program for OJT and NSTP students delivers

“I saw how wide or how narrow the human heart can be.”

This was the reflection of Xianne, a student of the College of Maasin, during the G-Watch sharing session held on April 23, 2023 in Tacloban City.

Xianne was among the pioneering batch of the NSTP/OJT program of G-Watch and the College of Maasin that conducted health monitoring in selected municipalities of Southern Leyte for the past two months. Twelve out of more than 50 students that applied to the program visited various barangay health stations in Maasin, Sogod, Bontoc, and Liloan and interviewed members of the community and duty-bearers. The monitoring findings were presented in the sharing session where the students who joined the monitoring collectively analyzed and came up with recommendations to be presented to concerned government officials.

They also shared their experience as youth engaging government and exacting accountability. While some officials were facilitative, there were those who were unresponsive, or worse, abrasive. They shared how they were treated as nuisance and saw firsthand how people are treated differently based on their status. But they persisted. In fact, their experience just cemented their resolve in volunteering and helping their community. Their concern was evident as they shared the story of an elderly that was not able to get basic medicine for his cough in the barangay health station simply because the medicine storage cannot be opened.

Furthermore, the students also noted that some respondents were hesitant to answer when they were interviewed in public spaces (i.e., in a barangay health station) and seemed more candid when it was done inside their homes.

For them, the monitoring not just enabled them to connect with other people and understand the importance of helping the community, but it also improved their personal and professional skills. Because of the program, they became exposed to the complex realities on the ground and saw firsthand how basic health services are being provided—or not being provided—in the barangays covered. Along the way, the students learned to look at issues critically and in different perspectives, which was further deepened during the session as they analyzed the causes of the issues that came up. The students reaffirmed the usefulness of the program to educate students on citizenship and governance as they vowed to continue being G-Watchers even outside school. Meanwhile, lessons from the monitoring experience will be used in further developing G-Watch’s new health initiative.

“Every time you come home, you come home a different person,” Xianne concluded.