Enabling the Challenged

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is briefly defined as the company’s sense of responsibility to the community and to the ecological and social environments that it is operating in. The traditional approaches are through corporate philanthropy that basically entails donations and aids to non-profit organizations and the communities, incorporating CSR with the company operations, and through the creation of shared values. Most studies indicated that CSR through the Creation of Shared Values has more positive impact on the business institution and the community especially on developing countries because it develops human capital. Normally, CSR are based in the human resource, business development, or public relation department of a business institution depending on its CSR approach. The traditional CSR engagements are not immediately observable from an outsider’s perspective except for the corporate philanthropy activities. Moreover, The Corporate Magazine felt that it must feature a woman for the March Issue in its observance of the International Women’s Month.

In this regard, The Corporate Magazine decided to feature a religious person that dedicated her life into actual Creation of Shared Values through direct actions for the upliftment of the human physical self as well as the human soul. It is understood that these are the fundamentals of a religion. However, these religious social actions stand out when these input innovations, capacitate the stakeholders, and lived in the faith. It is development of the human capital with the add-on value of ethical awareness.

Sr Eva Fidela Maamo, SPC, M.D is a member of the community of the Sisters of St Paul of Chartres (SPC) and currently the President of The Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission Inc. (FOLPMI). She is a medical doctor who specialized in surgery. Her journey in the service to fellowmen through her religious community is replete with fun contrary to what we usually see in the movies where nuns are the serious and frowning types of creations. Easily observed during our visit was her easy soft laugh and the way she ‘humanized’ the stories.

Her story started when she first saw two nuns in her hometown in Liloan, Southern Leyte when she was in Grade 3. She was drawn to the nuns’ habit for unexplainable reason. In time, she frequented their town’s Catholic Church because she finds serenity thereat. She did not have a conscious interest of joining a religious order at that time. She finished her studies and became a doctor of medicine. She practiced medicine in her hometown for two years. She described it as some sort of accidental when she brought her mother to Perpetual Succor Hospital in Cebu for medical procedures and had conversations with the nuns thereat. She mentioned in the course of the conversation that she ‘thinks’ she wanted to be a nun. The nuns at the hospital encouraged her and expedited her procedures such that when her mother checked out from the hospital she was also on the way to Manila to become a postulant.

She went to the Philippine General Hospital for her residency (general surgery) and underwent special rotation in anesthesia orthopedic and gynecology in preparation for mission works.

She was sent by SPC to Lake Sebu, South Cotabato in 1974 based on the request of the parish priest because the parishioners sorely need medical assistance considering the geographical location and road condition of the town in that period of time. She said the fun part was that the parish priest assured her that there would be the barest minimal to enable her to treat her patients. Indeed, there was table made of native materials but the space was so tight that she did her examinations on the floor. She did her surgeries covered by mosquito nets because of the flies and other insects. In lieu of dextrose drips, she often made use of coconut water. She gained the confidence of the tribes because she successfully treated the datus’ wives. These were the superficial challenges of the tribal communities in Lake Sebu. The in-depth causes were poverty, ignorance, cultural exploitation, and malnutrition. The curative solutions were to address the health concerns, education, livelihood, spiritual value formation, and cultural awareness.

Sr. Eva operationalized the ‘Barefoot Doctors’ culled from the Chinese concept. She started with few select tribesmen and taught them the barest medical and paramedical trainings to expand the SPC’s mission reach. Her immersion with the Lake Sebu’s tribes for seven years created a realization that must be addressed and aspired to form part of the identified curative solutions to the problems besetting the different tribes in the Philippines. In the corporate world, they usually refer to this as ‘creation of shared values’. The advantage is that there is no business interest to lookout for and the sum total are dedicated to the development of the human capital.

The Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission, Inc. (FOLPMI) was formally constituted in 1984 under the leadership of Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo, SPC, MD supported by volunteer medical professionals and civic groups. It started with 118 ‘Barefoot Doctors’. Currently it has 214 servicing 110 tribes in 51 provinces. These ‘Barefoot Doctors’ are being provided with quarterly forum to discuss their experiences and medical updates. I interjected a question as to whether the medical services to the indigenous communities are being utilized for religious conversion. Sr. Eva is categorical that there was never a single instance that the medical services was used for religious conversion albeit there are conversions from the outreach beneficiaries. Relatively, one of the pioneers of the ‘Barefoot Doctors’ in Lake Sebu is Basilio Salif who is now the incumbent Mayor on his last term. We joked that Mayor Salif must be very dedicated that the voters did not forget his services.

The FOLPMI consistent with its ‘created shared values’ aside from the 214 ‘Barefoot Doctors’ servicing 110 indigenous communities in 51 provinces has the following robust programs:

  • Health Program – It has a ‘hospital for the poor’ called Our Lady of Peace Hospital made of 100 charity beds. The FOLPMI hopes to construct the second phase of this hospital to be constituted of 200 pay-beds to support the charity wards.
    • Medical, Surgical, and Dental Missions – These are undertaken in the most remote and poverty stricken areas of the country;
    • Supplemental Feeding – It has 12 feeding centers providing one full meal a day from Mondays to Fridays to 300 malnourished children in 12 informal settlers areas and Aeta Resettlement Areas;
    • Community Health Workers Training for Indigenous People – ‘Barefoot Doctors’;
  • Education Programs – Day Care Centers, Elementary Schools in Aeta Resettlement and Rehabilitation Areas, Functional Literacy for adults and out of school youth, and scholarship programs;
  • Street Children Program (Angels’ Home) – A comprehensive program for street children but on limited scale;
  • Ministry for Elders – Support service for the elderlies through socio-economic and spiritual programs;
  • Community Livelihood Programs – Livelihood and capacity build-up program; and,
  • Spiritual Growth and Values Formation – Organizing the Basic Ecclesial Communities.

For the International Women’s Month, The Corporate cites below few of the recognition bestowed on Sr. Eva by different entities;

  1. Most Outstanding Physician of the Philippines – 1994
  2. Ramon Magsaysay Award, Community Leadership – 1997
  3. President’s Award for Literary Excellence 2001 – National Author’s Registry, USA
  4. President’s Award for Literary Excellence 2002 – Lilad Press, Michigan, USA
  5. Bayani ng Kalusugan Award 2016 – Department of Health

Indeed Sr. Eva lives the SPC tenets of Love for God, Prayerful Life, Community Life, and Service Specially to the Poor. It is expected that there may be different tenets when the new religious community that she will head is activated.

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