A long-time vagrant used to roaming city streets was rescued and successfully rehabilitated through joint government-private efforts led by mental health advocate Ricky Ducas of the Baguio City Health Services Office Mental Health Program unit.
Nanay Calteya, 64, is now happily living with her family in a home built by her family for her away from the streets she inhabited for 34 years.
It took nine months of wholehearted efforts from both the government and the private sectors for her to be reintegrated into the community.
"Ngayon si Nanay Calteya ay nag-aalaga ng apo, nagluluto, naglalaba at nakikisimba. Tumatawa, nagbibiro at higit sa lahat nanumbalik ang ilan niyang ala-ala. Na-enroll na rin si nanay bilang senior citizen at may social pension pa siya," Ducas said.
"Tuloy-tuloy ang gamutan. Monthly and kanyang monitoring at nabibigyan natin ng 'piskao ken bagas lang' (tuyo at bigas lang) na unang na sambit niya sa akin noong tinanong ko kung ano ang kanyang gusto," he added.
Ducas said he made it his mission to rescue Nanay Calteya after observing her daily and being reminded of a lesson he learned from his Saint Louis University (SLU) nursing course that "we may have a lot of injustices but everyone deserves to die with dignity."
His resolve was fanned after seeing her in a social media meme captioned, "Hindi ka taga- Baguio kung hindi mo siya kilala."
"I was hurt but took it as a challenge. Matanda na si nanay, at noong kasagsagan ng pandemya wala siyang mapuntahan na mahingian ng pagkain pero salamat sa mga nag-magandang loob na siya ay bigyan," he said.
The rescue took a month of planning and resource building with the help of various government offices and private groups and individuals.
"We conducted a concert-for-a-cause with the private sector July 15 last year for her. We located her family through the help of the Office of the City Social Welfare and Development Officer (OCSWDO) and we learned that the family had been longing for their loved one to come home and be taken care of by them but was at a loss as to how to do it after several failed attempts," Ducas related.
Learning of the rescue, the family even built a modest home for her.
The operation undertaken at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was not easy.
"We had to plan it carefully because nanay habitually transfers from one place to another. We did surveillance and observed her daily and after establishing her routine, we coordinated with her family and the different agencies," Ducas recounted.
Coordination was done with the Baguio City Police Office, BCPO-Women's desk, OCSWDO, Baguio General Hospital Medical Center Psychiatry Mental Health Support and Services, Baguio City Health Services Office, Baguio City Emergency Medical Service-BCEMS and Anxiety and Depression Support Group- Baguio City Board Members.
The rescue was a success and the next step of the mission was the clinical and medication stage.
"Through the help of the private partner, TG Homes Apartelle, nanay was given a temporary accommodation to bathe and sleep in while waiting for the result of her swab test and admission to the BGHM Psychiatry Department," he said.
She stayed in the hospital for a month under the care of her senior citizen brother with their needs supplied through the help of volunteers until her discharge to the community.
"Anak na din ang tawag niya sa akin at sobrang saya ng pakiramdam na nagawa natin ang akala natin ay imposible. Sa tulong ng Dios at kayo na may puso na gawin akong tulay sa mga tulad nila. Iyaman! Sumya tako!," Ducas said issuing a challenge:
"Sana magawa natin ito sa lahat ng mga nasa lansangan na may psychosocial disability subalit una sa lahat dapat merong pamilya na handang yumakap muli sa mga tulad nila. Dahil may awa ang May Likha at maraming tao ang handang tumulong sa inyong kapamilya," Ducas said.
(As part of the strategies for the early detection of mental disorders among individuals, the CHSO made available a helpline that could be immediately contacted by people suffering from mental disorders open from 8 am to 5 pm: 09190696361. Beyond said hours, people can reach the National Center for Mental Health 24/7 hotlines: 09178998727; 09663514518; 09086392672.)
Credits: Aileen P. Refuerzo, Public Information Office - Baguio