With the tremendous onslaught of Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) worldwide, it’s undeniable that the pandemic has drastically affected our lives. Among the sectors most affected are our women.
In the Bangsamoro region, research revealed that 68% of the community-based women respondents were restrained from pursuing livelihood activities, because of the lockdown and the strict implementation of the community quarantine. This is based on the assessment on impacts of Covid-19 on women conducted by Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC) in November 2020.
As the Bangsamoro Autonomous Regional Government celebrates women’s month this March, the strength and resilience of the Bangsamoro women at the forefront, who braved the storm brought by the pandemic, have also transcended.
Sheehery-Saad Salendab, Social Service Frontliner
For Sheehery-Saad Salendab, a social service frontliner from the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD), being one of the busiest frontline workers in the time of pandemic was never easy.
“Isa sa mga challenges ay iyong hindi mo hawak ang oras mo dahil anytime pwede kang i-pull-out. Madalang lang sinasabing ‘pahinga’ para sa amin,” Salendab said.
“Andoon iyong takot at pangangamba ko po na baka mahawaan ako o di kaya ay mahawaan ko ang pamilya ko, ngunit sa bandang huli ay napawi ang lahat ng iyon at mas nanaig ang pagpupursige ko sa aking trabaho sa kadahilanang alam kong maraming taong lubos na nangangailangan sa panahong iyon dulot ng pandemiya,” she added.
The social worker, who have been serving the Bangsamoro for quite a while now, stressed that for social workers, having the technical-know-how is simply not enough.
“Para sa akin, compassion, humility, at genuine commitment iyong kailangan kapag nasa frontline ka. Puso kasi ang pinakamalaking puhunan kapag isa kang social service frontliner,” Salendab said.
Myrna Jo Henry, Emergency Responder
Meanwhile, emergency female responder, Myrna Jo Henry of the Bangsamoro Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READi-BARMM), said her experience during the time of pandemic was unprecedented, especially at the time of its onset.
“The situation is far different from what it used to be. There are things we would like to do but we are restricted because of the pandemic […] but there’s still the drive to continue the work despite the crisis,” Henry said.
For her, the pandemic has not been an obstacle to deliver services for the affected families, especially in the rural areas of Bangsamoro region.
“As a frontline worker, hindi naging hadlang ang pandemya, lalo na sa amin na service-oriented. Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang serbisyo,” she added.
She encouraged the Bangsamoro women to do what they want, especially if it can help them build and expand their skills.
“Dapat maging matatag, kasi iyong hamon sa buhay, nandyan lang yan. Dapat laging handa, matatag ka at laban lang talaga kasi kapag huminto ka, walang mangyayari sayo,” Henry stressed.
“You keep on trying, because at the end of the day, you will accept whatever the consequence is. Kung hindi ka nag-try, talo ka; kung sinubukan mo, baka may magandang dulot,” she added.
Nuriel Huda Haron, Midwife
On the other hand, Nuriel Huda Haron, one of the frontline workers of the region’s health ministry, admitted that she experienced discrimination during the peak of the outbreak.
“Diko alam kung paano i-interpret iyong reactions nila. Takot ba sila na baka carrier kami o takot silang masita ng hindi naka (wear ng) mask? But either ways, hindi parin maganda ang impact sa amin,” she said.
According to Haron, her line of work became harder at the advent of the pandemic. It was even harder for them to make people believe that the disease really does exist.
“Pinakamahirap na trabaho ay iyong makipag-usap sa (mga tao) na hindi naniniwala sa existence ng sakit. We are spending longer hours sa pagtatrabaho dahil sa pandemic, because this is an emergency (case). Hindi lang local, kundi sa buong mundo,” she told.
However the circumstances, Haron did not lose hope. “Mahirap, but at the same time, fulfilling, knowing that you’ve lent your strength helping others. Sa mga discrimination naman, let’s not take it na negative. Gawin natin ito na motivation na mas ipakita ang best natin at mas gandahan pa iyong attitude, work; Let’s do our part and ALLAH will do the rest,” she added.
As a midwife, Haron imbibed the essence of being a woman in carrying out her services during Covid-19 crisis for the Bangsamoro community. She believes, “lahat ng tao ay may katangian ng pagiging mapagmahal. Ang isang babae ay mapag-alaga, matapang, kayang mag-tiis at magsakripisyo.”
The battle against Covid-19 may have been very tough for most us, but for these women, being there to respond to people who are in dire need must be the most uphill but satisfying task.
These women, indeed, represent the different faces of Bangsamoro women who continually fight the unseen enemy and remain steadfast despite larger-than-life challenges. (Bangsamoro Information Office)