A tree for marginalized mothers and babies
HILARY Overton was an 18-year-old midwifery student from El Paso, Texas when she first came to Cebu to do missionary work.
The daughter of a pastor, Overton was assigned to deliver babies in a clinic located near the former Lorega Cemetery, which the Cebu City Government previously counted to have 500 families living in 329 illegal structures.
“I was exposed to missionary work and the living conditions in different countries. One thing that stood out for me was the lack of care for women. It stirred my heart to do something for them,” said Overton.
In Cebu, she saw how three to four mothers either in labor or recovering from childbirth occupy only one bed in a government hospital. Most of these women did not receive the proper care in the different stages of their pregnancies. After they gave birth, the babies were not well-taken care of because of poor education.
While she wanted to stay in Cebu, Overton had to go back to the US in 2000 to complete her midwifery course. She later married David Overton.
“Back home, I felt that I was not much of a help because people access to healthcare so we moved to Cebu in 2003 to set up Glory Reborn,” Overton told Cebu Daily News.
The couple has since lived here for 14 years and settled in Barangay Basak San Nicolas, Cebu City. The clinic is located on Cabreros Street.
The Overton couple is in the process of adopting a five-year-old boy named Fred. The couple has a biological daughter, Amara, who is five months old.
The Glory Reborn Birthing Clinic, a non-profit maternity clinic, started out in the spare room of the couple’s apartment in barangay Basak San Nicolas.
One of the mothers gave birth to a baby, John David, in that room.
Within the same year, the couple found themselves opening a clinic to occupy a growing number of mothers who come from Cebu City to avail of free services.
At the Glory Reborn clinic, mothers receive complete maternity care. They are given health and nutrition lectures, counseling, free vitamins, ultrasound and laboratory screenings.
The clinic is licensed and accredited by the Department of Health and PhilHealth.
Currently, the clinic has a 10-bed capacity and can deliver 30 to 40 babies in a month. Since 2003, it has delivered more than 4,000 babies. The clinic now employs 32 staff excluding volunteers. This number includes doctors, nurses, administration and outreach staff.
To further her knowledge and skills in serving mothers and babies, Overton studied and finished the Doctor of Medicine program at the Southwestern University-Matias H. Aznar Memorial College of Medicine Inc. in 2015.
She did her post-graduate internship at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) where she had a more in-depth experience of the country’s healthcare system.
The clinic operates from donations and pledges, mostly from international donors and organizations.
“As a Cebuano community, it important that we help our mothers and babies to have access to quality healthcare,” said Overton.
Overton, now 36, said they continue to do outreach and social work programs in barangays such as Kamagayan, Mambaling and Basak Pardo to raise awareness about the state of marginalized mothers and babies.
Part of raising awareness about maternal and neonatal care is their participation in Robinsons Galleria Cebu’s Festival of Trees,an annual Christmas event which gives companies and organizations a venue to promote their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs and the advocacies they support.
Robinsons Galleria Cebu senior marketing manager Joanna Salazar said they sent letters to companies and organizations to invite them to set up their Christmas trees and present their CSR or the charities they support.
“This is Robinsons Galleria Cebu’s one way of reaching out to the neighboring communities and organizations, mall goers and tourists to develop a culture of love and sense of responsibility to share to the less privileged most especially during Christmas,”shared Salazar.
The display of trees is located on the second floor, hotel side.
Glory Reborn’s Christmas tree is made of white cloth and PVC pipes accented with silver garlands.
The tree has five layers with each layer presenting the different stages in a woman’s journey to motherhood. The illustrations were made through silk-screen printing.
This is the third year that the Festival of Trees is staged.
It started in 2015 when the mall opened.
This year, the Festival of Trees was opened last November 12 and will run until January 6.
Salazar said images of the Christmas trees were uploaded on the mall’s Facebook page.
The tree with the most number of likes will win P20,000 worth of gift certificates that will be handed over to the corresponding beneficiary or charity.
“These babies can be the next political leaders, even the next president, so they are worth the investment. Their lives matter,” said Overton.
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