This week our Filipino friend Jackie Perez graduated from the University of the Visayas with a nursing degree with a concentration in midwifery. Over the past two years, our organization has been able to provide her with a full scholarship to make this educational opportunity possible.
Ty and Meg Mathews, members of our South East Asia regional team, first met Jackie in Barrio Barreto outside Olongapo City, an area known for catering to Western male tourists. After seeing the hardship she faced away from her home working all hours of the night trying to help provide for her family, the Mathews were compelled to find a way to help. When Jackie told Ty and Meg it was her dream to go to college, they began praying about a way to help her get there, knowing it would be an opportunity for her to get out of her desperate situation.
The Mathews would spend the following months getting to know Jackie. She accompanied our team to visit the Aeta, an indigenous people group that lives in the remote mountain areas outside Olongapo City. Meg asked Jackie to help her translating as she provided education on maternal health to indigenous midwives in the area. Moved by her observations from this experience, Jackie shared with Ty and Meg her desire to become a midwife. She shared with them that her cousin had recently lost a child that was only 5 days old. This tragic circumstance had already proved to Jackie the need for professionals to assist in the vulnerable days following the birth of a child for both the mother and the baby.
When the Mathews proposed to Jackie the opportunity to attend college, she decided on the University of the Visayas, because she wanted to be a midwife “like Meg.” Once given the opportunity, Jackie never looked back. Only a few months later, she entered the 2-year program at the University of the Visayas.
The program consists of both classroom work and clinicals that provide extensive hands-on experience in supporting women in the birthing process, a need that is particularly lacking in the Philippines. Jackie was 1 of 7 graduates in the program this year.
Having graduated, Jackie will spend the next six months interning at the Cumpio Midwife Clinic outside Tacloban City, our agency’s current hub city. Our cooperative Rina Miller has been working with Cumpio for over a year. The clinic serves women in rural areas who cannot afford proper maternal health care during pregnancy and post-partum.
Jackie will spend three days a week working at the clinic and three days a week working alongside our agency’s cooperatives in the area. At the end of her time at Cumpio, she will take her board exams, which, upon passing, will qualify her as a certified midwife.
We are incredibly thankful for the story that is developing with Jackie and look forward to her being able to provide support for so many mothers who cannot afford the birthing experience they deserve.