Cotabato City. Besting more than 170 entries from the 13 regions in the country, the Project “Peace of Mind,” designed and implemented by Team MaguindaNOW, is one of the top five awardees of the recently concluded Ideas Positive Run 7 National Health Innovation Competition organized by UNILAB Foundation.
For seven years now, UNILAB Foundation spearheaded the Ideas Positive to harness the energy and enthusiasm of the youth through provision of youth-centered platforms where they can be creative and innovative in transforming their communities and help build a healthier Philippines.
“The impetus of this transformative initiative springs from bayanihan, the spirit that animates Unilab’s corporate philosophy. With the individual at the center of things, bayanihan is unity in action in the pursuit of objectives and goals for the common good,” related by Gil A. Santos, Executive Trustee of Unilab Foundation, Inc.
Hundreds of youth health advocates applied to be part of Ideas Positive Run 7 since it opened the competition last October 2016. In February of this year, the regional finalists were screened and only 13 teams made it to the National Finals. Three (3) teams are composed of Bangsamoro youth from Iligan, Basilan and Maguindanao. The teams were given intensive trainings to help them in the design of their project. Afterwards, each team implemented their ideas positive project for a period of six months. Unilab provided a mini-grant of P100,000.00 per team to support the implementation of the projects.
After the series of evaluation and monitoring, Unilab announced the Top Five (5) winners of this years competition. And for the first time, two Bangsamoro youth teams made it to the top five – Team Ripl of Iligan and Team MaguindaNOW of Cotabato City and Maguindanao – along with Team Arikisaviours from Bacolod City; Team Cebuano Youth Ambassadors from Cebu; and, Team BakUNAWA . A Special Award was also bagged by Team Bangsamoro Youth Leaders from Basilan.
Team MaguindaNOW is composed of two students and three young professionals namely: Mr. Harris Mama-Tan Sulaiman is a student of Cotabato City State Polytechnic College; Mr John Badawi just graduated (Cum Laude) from Mindanao State University; Ms. Jeahan A. Haron is a College Instructor at Cotabato City State Polytechnic College; Mr. Jowahdi Salik is a College Instructor at STI College; and, Mr. Abdul Rahman Sali Alongan is a staff from DSWD Region 12. The team’s mentor is The Moropreneur Inc’s Executive Director Mr. Selahuddin Yu Hashim.
The Peace of Mind project aims to strengthen the mental health program in secondary schools in Maguindanao through organizing and capacitating service providers in schools – teachers and guidance councilors. The project was established after a baseline study was conducted among 929 youth in selected high schools in Maguindanao and found that at least 92% of them manifest psychological stress including anxiety, depression, among others. Over-all, 355 teachers and guidance councilors in 14 secondary schools were capacitated; Peace of Mind Clubs composed of the youth were also formed and provide peer support to their classmates and friends; and, a success rate of 83.5% positive response after the intervention which indicate that the youth are now more happy, participative and are feeling hopeful for their future.
“We listened to a lot of heartbreaking stories from the youth who grew up listening to the sounds of blasts, gun fires and cries and saw dark smokes and burned houses. They’ve been moving from places to places just to survive,” lamented by the team’s Team Leader Abdul Rahman Silongan. The team also recognize the bravery and resiliency of these young fellows who, at the heart of conflict, they persevered and continue to study.
John Badawi, the team’s presenter and a BS Psychology graduate, emphasized that there is “No peace without mental health, and while we say that we are resilient, we are human beings who feel the pain, the anxiety and the depression brought about by the harsh environment we are into.”
After receiving the awards, the team is now back in Cotabato City and plans to continue the implementation of the project in other secondary schools in Maguindanao as well as in the evacuation centers in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur. They will be collaborating with The Moropreneur Inc in providing the needed Psychosocial Support Services to the displaced women with their infants and young children.
When asked what motivate them to do this, Harris, Jowhadi and Jeahan quickly quipped a “hugot line” which perfectly sums up the driving force of the team “Ang umibig ang dahilan kung bakit ngayon ay patuloy naming isinusulong ang mapayapang Maguindanao.”