Amina Swanepoel is proud of what Roots of Health has achieved since its inception in 2009. After all, not all nonprofit organizations can say that they’ve actually made a difference in people’s lives. Roots of Health, on the other hand, has been quietly integrating itself into local communities that need education, nutritional support, and pregnancy assistance. The organization is founded by Amina's mother, Dr. Susan Evangelista, and it seeks to address a huge gap in the health sector—that of the women.

One of our community programs is a Healthy Pregnancy program. We provide pregnant women and girls with prenatal vitamins and monthly checkups as well as counseling and support,” Amina tells FN. “We encourage our clients, especially those whose pregnancies are considered high-risk, to deliver in a hospital or lying-in clinic, but often they cannot because they do not have enough money for the fees. When they opt to deliver at home, our nurses and midwife stay with our clients and assist with the deliveries to ensure the our clients’ and their babies’ safety.”

It is a testament to how seriously the organization is taking its responsibility, but the advocacy doesn’t just end there. Roots of Health has also teamed up with universities and high schools to provide proper reproductive health education to students. It is, after all, one the main reasons the organization was founded in the first place.

[My mother] had the inspiration to start the organization in response to the alarming number of unplanned pregnancies she witnessed among her students over 30 years of teaching at Ateneo de Manila, and over almost 10 years of teaching at Palawan State University,” says Amina who at that time “was living in New York City and had just completed a double Master’s degree program at Columbia University in Public Health and International Affairs.”

“I had initially been interested in tackling the issue of HIV, so I enrolled in the sexuality and health track within the Mailman School of Public Health’s Population and Family Health (PopFam) department,” says Amina whose interest soon grew to include maternal mortality. She understood that it was important to provide “reproductive health education and access to contraceptives to women, so that they do not die of preventable complications in pregnancy and childbirth.”

“My mom knew I was concerned about maternal health and realized that her background in education and her familiarity with Palawan, coupled with my technical public health skills, could allow us to successfully start our own organization. So she asked me to come home and start Roots of Health with her. The rest is history.”

Roots of Health continues to provide education and services in chosen underserved communities and has started looking into teaching its community clients a basic module on financial literacy.

(Photos courtesy of Amina Swanepoel and Roots of Health)

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