“The war on the pandemic is not a sprint, it’s a marathon; sustainability and perseverance are important,” Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno expressed during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Project Online Wellness Kontra Covid initiatives (Project OWCKi) between the City LGU and Xavier Ateneo last November 27, 2020 at the City Hall.
Back in October 2020, the Department of Health issued a press briefing presenting initial results of a national study conducted by the health agency, which shows that around 3.6 million Filipinos suffer from mental disorders amid the corona virus pandemic. An alarming spike in calls made to the National Center for Mental Health hotline was recorded during this time of health crisis, signaling effects of the pandemic on the mental health of Filipinos. DOH further reported that the number of cases could be higher as their study only looked into three selected conditions.
The rise in Covid-positive cases in the City necessitated more isolation facilities and more frontline responders to accommodate and provide individuals and their families needed attention and intervention. “Many changes happen in the life of people in [the City Isolation Units (CIU) and Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities],” shared Mayor Moreno. He added that the days spent alone away from home and family in these isolation facilities give rise to drastic uncertainties and anxiety.
XU President, Fr Mars Tan, SJ ordered the creation of a team in the University who will bring together needed expertise and available resources to respond to the rising cases of mental health and wellness concerns, as presented in one of the meetings of the City local Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). Hence, Project OWCKi was conceptualized and offered to the City as addition to Xavier Ateneo’s contribution to the continuing battle against COVID-19.
Project OWKCi is the fruit of several conversations between the City local IATF, the Psycho-social Division of the City, and a team from Xavier Ateneo. The services offered under the Project include psycho-social processing (PSP), psychological first aid (PFA), psycho-spiritual conversations and kamustahans, psycho-education, counselling, physical wellness, and art therapy. All these will be delivered through available online platforms.
Front (L-R): Roel Ravanera, Fr Mars Tan SJ, Mayor Oscar Moreno, Dr Lorraine Nery; Back (L-R): From XU: Gail de la Rita, Irene Guitarte (from City LGU) Dr William Bernardo, Rhyselle Descallar, Jaymee Leonen, Teddy Sabugaa, Oliver Egypto
Project OWKCi will be implemented first to CIUs 24, 25, and 30; these are Xavier Ateneo facilities which are also lent to the City. The Project’s activities will complement the ongoing programs and activities of the City’s Psycho-Social Division.
“[We are] grateful that XU accepted this proposal [to assist the City],” Dr Lorraine Nery, Head of the Emergency Operations Cluster and City Health Officer. Dr. Nery also articulated the City LGU’s role in the implementation of Project OWKCi, that is, to provide directional guidance and logistical support.
In his response, Fr Mars shared that “XU, being a Jesuit University, always seeks to reach out to the wider community through which its mission is fulfilled… based on its available expertise and resources. XU is part of the City; its members are citizens of the City; we want to help because we are a part of it.”
Project OWKCi will form part of the Sustained #XUKontraCOVID19 institutional engagements under the oversight of the Social Development cluster led by Roel Ravanera, XU’s Vice President for Social Development.
XU units involved in the Project include the Office for Mission and Ministry under VP Irene Guitarte, the Offices of Guidance and Counselling, Campus Ministries, Athletics Office, Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts, Xavier Center for Mental Health and Research, the social development (SD) center under the College of Arts and Sciences, and the SD programs.
Also present during the MOU-signing were Teddy Sabugaa (OIC City Administrator), Jaymee Leonen (Head of the City’s Psycho-Social Division), Dr William Bernardo (City Health Insurance Officer), Oliver Egypto (Head of the City’s Office for Community Affairs), and Rhyselle Descallar (Oversight for CIUs 24, 25, and 30).
“I cannot thank you enough, Father, and XU for this very kind act,” said Mayor Moreno. He hopes that “this partnership will serve as a guidepost for other LGUs and for other educational institutions to do the same.”
Fr Mars thanked the Mayor for giving XU the opportunity to help the City as an institutional partner as this allows the XU community to be formed and become even more people- and service oriented.
Photos from the City LGU