Two of the key stakeholders on Tablas Island (where Project Lifecycle will be based) are the Catholic Church and the Local Health Care Centers. Malcolm Trevena – of Meaningful Volunteer – met with both groups to assess the Family Planning norms on the island.
The Catholic Church
Father Nelson – the local priest on Romblon – restated the church’s position on contraception. Condoms, contraceptive pills, contraceptive injections and any other type of artificial methods are strictly forbidden.
The church is very much for family planning and trying to reduce the average family size. Any couple that wished to get married in the church must attend a one hour family planning seminar. In the seminar, the couples are taught the Rhythm Method of family planning. While this is better than no method at all, research shows that it is not nearly as effective as the SDM method. (SDM is the Standard Days Method – the method used by the Lifecycle necklaces.)
Father Nelson had not heard of the SDM method, but was very open to the idea. He suggested that Meaningful Volunteer meets together with the local diocese to discuss the method with the local bishop and fathers.
Local Health Care Centers
There are several health care centers on the island. Each health care center is typically run by four or so health care workers.
The health care centers stock the usual contraceptives. They cannot offer the contraceptives, but can accept donations if they are requested by the client. This is very frustrating for the local health care workers.
They often had local couples approaching them and saying things like: “We did what they church said, and we still got pregnant!” This is also frustrating for the health care workers as they feel they could do a much better job of counseling than they church does. They are – after all – trained health care workers.
At a recent conference, they were exposed to the Lifecycle necklaces and the SDM method and actually had one (!) necklace in stock. Meaningful Volunteer plans to help the Health Care Centers as much as possible and supply them with as many Lifecycle necklaces as we can.
The health care centers also work closely with the local midwives. Each midwife is assigned three barangays (villages) and takes care of all the prenatal and postnatal care.
Meaningful Volunteer will work closely with all the key stakeholders on the island to ensure the best possible standards of family planning on the island.