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Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) on Tuesday commended 70-year-old Mildred Juan Albano-Hernando for being a volunteer Barangay Health Worker (BHW) in Dingras, Ilocos Norte for more than three decades.

Hernando began her volunteer service as a BHW on Jan. 2, 1983 and became the president of the Ilocos Norte – Laoag City Federated Barangay Health Workers Association in 1990. After a three-decade stint as a volunteer BHW, she moved to the United States and lived with one of her children in Oregon.

On Tuesday, Hernando – while on vacation in the Philippines – received an unnumbered resolution commending her exemplary service as a volunteer health worker to the province of Ilocos Norte.

During her term as president of the BHW association from 1990 to 2015, her organization received numerous awards and commendations, such as outstanding federation (1996-1999) and Best Practice Office, and as president, she was awarded as the Best Trainer of BHWs in 1994 and Best Performing President of the Ilocos Norte – Laoag City Association of Barangay Health Workers.

Without receiving a single centavo from the government when she began her volunteer work, Hernando noted that being a health worker “is a really big commitment to our community.”

“It’s hard and purely voluntary but we are happy to serve,” she said.

She related stories of urgently sending out warnings to areas at risk during storm signals and having to wade or swim through floodwaters to reach constituents of their town.

Nevertheless, she said, “I enjoy voluntary work in Ilocos Norte.”

As a mother of 11 children who are now all professionals and a widow of a military man, Hernando said volunteerism taught her the importance of having the heart to serve the community.

“During my time, there had been no honorarium for BHWs but serving the community gave me the fulfillment with a happy heart,” she said.

She said even when she left the country and worked in the US as a caregiver, her volunteer service as a BHW is what she missed the most.

Whenever she came home for a visit, Hernando made sure to reunite with her BHW family and the community she served in Dingras town.

“We are so proud and thankful for having her in our community in Dingras. She is an inspiration to many,” Dingras municipal administrator Joemelle Saguid Go Sy said in a media interview on Tuesday.

Under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers and the Department of Health – Department of Budget and Management Joint Circular 1, series of 2016, BHWs are entitled to a stipend from the local government unit.

Then Ilocos Norte governor and now senator Imee Marcos also introduced BHW insurance cards, which entitle the holder to up to PHP50,000 if he/she or a family member gets into an accident, and PHP5,000 if one dies of natural causes.

She said she saw the need for this, as BHWs often have to travel through unlit roads at night to tend to their constituents. (PNA)