AMMA PROGRAM UPDATE
by: Tessibeth Cordova
The Ama na Magaling Mag-aruga sa Anak (AMMA) Program is a community-based psychosocial intervention set out to assist the fathers “left behind” by their Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) spouses. This program is an offshoot of the findings of Dr. Ma. Lourdes A. Carandang found in her book entitled “Nawala ang Ilaw ng Tahanan,” showing the impact on the identity and self-esteem of the fathers and the well-being of the children “left-behind” by the OFW mother. This is part of a greater series of interventions designed by her with her team of psychologists, the MLAC Institute of Psychosocial Services, Inc. and the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) as the host institution in the community under its Gender and Development Program to address the social costs of feminization of migration.
The program began by providing the fathers with counseling services to help process their experiences and make sense out of them, leading to an enhanced self-concept and identity. They were also equipped with enhanced parenting skills in order for them to better cope with their new responsibilities at home. The children were also provided with play and mindfulness-based expressive arts therapy to help them process their experiences as well.
The program is currently on its third phase (Organizational Development and Management) which concentrates on ensuring the sustainability of the intervention. Believing in Jean Monnet’s wisdom that “Nothing starts without people; Nothing lasts without institutions,” a comprehensive and systematic approach at the community level has been started and continues to be made more entrenched.
We have adopted what we call the Psycho-CO Approach, combining the depth of psychological principles and breadth of community organizing. The psychological component has provided the heart and soul of the approach giving the members a solid core to anchor themselves on and bond themselves with one another. The community organizing (CO) component has allowed them to participate in a systematic way to build their organization by enhancing their capabilities and resources to resolve their immediate and long-term needs and concerns and in the process, has provided the expanse and synergy of alliances of institutions in their community. The fathers are now involved in strategies that will help them achieve their own aspiration to help other fathers who are similarly situated.
While MLAC is primarily responsible for working out the psychosocial dimension of the program, CIAC is the institution primarily responsible for the community organizing component. Together, these two institutions have worked very closely to implement in a systematic, holistic and integrated manner an approach to the now so-called Psycho-CO Method which yielded results that prove the relevance of psychologists not only at the immediate personal and family life of the fathers but at the community level after seeing the transformation of left-behind fathers from father-helpee to father-enabler phenomenology. The outcomes of the program have demonstrated the need to make the practice of psychology more inclusive, practical and responsive to the needs of the individual as a TOTAL PERSON which means actively establishing collaborative efforts and maintaining strategic partnerships with existing concerned institutions with similar mandate should psychologists really commit to becoming socially relevant.