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NGOs in Bicol lend a helping hand to fight malnutrition and promote breastfeedingTabaco City. With the Enhanced Community Quarantine in effect since March 16, many daily wage earners have experienced many difficulties in meeting their daily food needs due to low or no daily income earned. With low income, there is a big possibility for the members of the family to reduce food intake, resulting to limited nutrients which greatly affect the health of everyone especially those who are most vulnerable – children, pregnant and lactating women, senior citizens and differently-abled group. Children must have enough nutrients in their body for proper growth and development. Pregnant and lactating women should be healthy for their infants to be healthy. Senior citizens have weak immune systems and are vulnerable to diseases.  While Provincial and Local Government Units and National Government Agencies continue to help those in need, various Non-Government Organizations also decided to lend a helping hand.

Two NGOs in Bicol Region extend their help to the undernourished children as well as the pregnant and lactating mothers. One of these is the Destiny Church Bicol which initiated Project “Istorya Ko, Tabang Ko”. The education of the children was compromised during this crisis, so they started an online story-reading challenge to help children learn. Various individuals uploaded videos of them reading children's stories which can be accessible on their Facebook Page and YouTube Channel. Moreover, Destiny Church Bicol also donated food packs to undernourished children in 4 barangays in Tabaco City with the help of Tabaco City Nutrition Committee. 138 undernourished children benefited from the food packs given that included fruits, eggs, chicken, macaroni pasta, mongo, cereal drink, bread, and biscuits. With this project, they help educate children at home and provide nutritious food too.

Another non-government organization which advocates breastfeeding and complementary feeding is the Breastfeeding Bicolanas based in Camarines Sur. During this pandemic, they have engaged in various activities just to help the breastfeeding journey of mothers. They have an active online counseling for mothers encouraging them to push breastfeeding and re-lactation. They have also conducted mass distribution of Nutrinapay in Naga City,  Magarao and other areas in  Camarines Sur. Nutrinapay is similar to Nutribun but instead they use local crops such as squash, kamote, mushrooms, malunggay powder and pili testa made possible by Breastfeeding Bicolanas President, Ms. Lizlee Medina Pascua and Chef Norita Badong.  In addition, the organization also distribute Padaba Packs to 250 pregnant and lactating women in Barangay Calauag, Naga City. The Padaba Packs include vegetables and crops from local farmers, recipes using the vegetables provided, Bicol version pamphlet of Breastfeeding during COVID-19, and seedlings. Lastly, they prepared healthy snack such as Pinoy Pageti (without meat and artificial flavorings), kamote doughnuts, and soya drinks.

Destiny Church Bicol and Breastfeeding Bicolanas are just two of the many organizations which have decided to extend their generosity to the vulnerable groups. NNC Bicol commends these actions and expresses gratitude to those who helped and are continue helping alleviate malnutrition in children and promote breastfeeding too, particularly during this hard time.

(NACL, ARR, NNC RO V)