In July, I joined young people from around the world in Washington DC. We were taking the first steps in our journey to become leaders in a major campaign for better nutrition.
My Girl Scouting story began years ago, with my mother. As a Girl Scout herself, she inspired me to join the Movement. She believed, if I put my heart into its vision I could achieve anything, and more importantly, contribute to building our nation. This is the foundation for my passion for service and my commitment to improving nutrition in the Philippines.
Philippines is my home, I was born and raised here. The Global Hunger Index includes Philippines in 38 states which account for 90 per cent of the global burden of malnutrition. This is a result of the Philippines’ overwhelming poverty rates and vulnerability to natural disasters.
"I want be the voice of girls and young women on nutrition and how it affects them"
I cannot simply stand in the face of our grim reality. Now I have graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Service, I am continuing to advocate for children, girls and young women at a much larger scale through the Girl Scouts. This is where my interest in and passion for service first began.
Improving nutrition and helping my community go hand in hand. As part of the Chief Girl Scout Medal Scheme (CGSMS) of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, I initiated a group called “Children Helping Children". This implemented a year round feeding program for severely malnourished children, whose parents suffer from leprosy in a community which was said to be one of the most impoverished and malnourished in our town. My commitment to tackling nutrition issues in the Philippines was also realised with the establishment of a vegetable garden, as well as a medicine drive for the needy in Western Visayas Sanitarium.
I believe every great change starts from small and simple actions. My journey to Washington DC began with me as a Star Scout. Today, I am one of 10 global campaigners working to accelerate progress to end malnutrition. The SUN Civil Society Network, Results, ACTION and Global Citizen ‘Youth Leaders for Nutrition Programme’ began in July in Washington DC. To say it was a fantastic experience would be an understatement. Realising I was the only representative from the Philippines made me a little nervous. Yet, I gained a global overview of nutrition in many countries and was thrilled to be the voice of girls and young women. The things I learnt in Washington DC will last me a lifetime. Spending time with young leaders from different parts of the world and gaining insights from their experiences was exhilarating.
"Hearing from an amazing panel of women leaders, especially Her Excellency Joyce Banda, Former President of Malawi, was the highlight."
Hearing how they have overcome challenges and persevered in the face of adversity inspired me to ask a question on behalf of girls and young women. I asked the panel how they convinced men in their institutions to be involved in issues concerning women. I also asked how girls and young women could be involved in advocacy work. Our advocacy visits on the last day was truly memorable. Going around Washington DC, we were able to meet with the heads of 1000 Days, USAID, Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Office of US Congressman Christopher Smith.
During the training, we each developed and presented our advocacy plans. I was not creating a project of my own, but supporting Girl Powered Nutrition by using digital media to ensure outreach of the programme in the Philippines. Social media use is very high in the Philippines so I believe this will help immensely by starting conversations on the status of adolescent nutrition in the country.
Since I’ve been home, I’ve helped facilitate and share my experiences at the Girl Powered Nutrition campaign workshop and met with partners working on nutrition. I look forward to continuing to put into action my advocacy plan. I hope that more girls will decide to pursue advocacy as a career so that people know and acknowledge that we are leading the conversations and are doing our part in addressing issues related to our nutrition.
This whole experience has taught me so much, but most of all, learning to trust myself and discover my capabilities. My journey in fighting malnutrition started with the small step of joining the Chief Girl Scout Medal Scheme. Today, I decided to tell my story hoping to inspire young girls to raise their voice against malnutrition in their country and affect bigger change. Being a Girl Scout has taught me to not only work on growing myself but also help other girls to fulfil their full potential.
"The the biggest learning as a result of my experiences is about trusting yourself and discovering your capabilities."
My journey fighting malnutrition started with the small step of joining the Chief Girl Scout Medal Scheme. Today, I decided to tell my story, hoping to inspire young girls to raise their voices against malnutrition in their country and effect bigger change. Being a Girl Scout has taught me to not only work on growing myself, but also help other girls to fulfil their full potential.