(Marissa Nartea of DSWD Regional Haven at Pawing Palo got the GAWAD HUWARAN Individual Awards – an award given to a DSWD employee who is able to render extraordinary work performance or service & exemplary demonstration of DSWD’s three core competencies in his/her work execution, thereby significantly contributing to the achievement of the strategic goals of the Department. She receives the award today in line with the PRAISE Awards of DSWD Central Office to mark the 69th anniversary of the agency. DSWD Regional Director Marie Angela Gopalan joins her in this significant event.)

Working at the Regional Haven for 14 years now, Marissa Nartea symbolizes a role model employee who loves her job and the organization where she is in. She is a respectable worker who possesses qualities of a true professional.

As a Social Welfare Assistant (formerly carrying the item of Manpower Development Assistant), the nominee has remained engaged, productive, and loyal to her work, untiringly coming up with innovative ideas on varied vocational skills for the sake of the Haven’s resident-women. She has never shown loss of enthusiasm, always motivated, says fellow worker and now Officer-In-Charge Merne Gadin.

The women, whom she attends to, describe how Marissa teaches them with utmost discipline, “istrikto” as they termed it in local dialect for “strict.” At first, they seem not to like it but, then, later came into realization that it is but a show of her sincere effort to help them learn the craft, so they will be armed with life’s skills when they are eventually reintegrated into the mainstream of society.

There are no idle moments at the center, and the livelihood trainings Marissa organized have contributed to their faster healing and recovery. Such observations are indicated in the Trainers’ Observation Reports of the residents, submitted after each training.

The nominee is observed to be well-organized as she always sees to it that whatever she does, it is “completed staffwork” and fully documented. She prepares Productivity Reports and Inventory Reports of Practical Skills Development tools, supplies, materials, and equipment.

Marissa teaches the women basic sewing and how to make dresses, potholders, curtains, even rugs and also handicrafts. She also introduces to them the how-to’s of haircutting/coloring/rebonding as well as cosmetology.

At Christmas time, the women learn the art of recreating decorations and lanterns out of scrap or reusable items. In teaching them, Marissa encourages the women to widen their horizons and stir their imagination in finding materials within their surroundings, so they can re-invent from it. Last year, the residents underwent a workshop on making Christmas wreaths and other holiday decors.

Their items are made for sale. If there is mass production, the DSWD – run facility opens its doors to the nearby government offices at the Government Center in Candahug, Palo.

For Marissa, she imposes herself with challenges on how the Center can better provide the women with more gainful or employable skills. She hates the routine, or the ordinary. Fact is, she explored having the women trained on Fish Deboning, Container Gardening, and Greenhouse Farming.

Year 2013, the Greenhouse & Container Gardening Project was born. Marissa, who had no technical knowhow on vegetable gardening, earlier went into a 96 – hour Season Long Technology Transfer Training for High Value Vegetables, Fruits and Crops from the Leyte Provincial Agriculturist’s Office. Her PATIENCE was a plus factor in building this dream. The training was an eight – hour per week session which begun February 25 of 2010 and lasted June 3 of same year.

The Greenhouse was courtesy of Manna-lig Agri-Industrial Supply and Support Corporation while the farm implements, fertilizers, seeds, and other garden inputs were from USAID and Palo Municipal Agriculturist’s Office. On the Greenhouse technology, the Visayas State College of Agriculture in Baybay, Leyte extended technical assistance.

Today, it is the pride of Regional Haven. Despite floods/typhoons that have plagued Leyte province, the project has sustained through time. Marissa had never given up. She has made innovations like installation of protective mesh and tunnel for better production.

The Greenhouse has become a show window for guests. Healthy –growing lettuce, squash, cabbage, eggplant, among others, are being cultivated since then. For their consumption, the Center itself makes use of the fresh produce right from the backyard, and the women are earning little by little.

Since it is growing, the Center hired three workers to help maintain the Greenhouse. A discharged resident from Regional Haven, Lilibeth Ancheta, is now benefitting from the project. Her family regularly markets the produce to the nearby “talipapa,” school, and government offices.

Meanwhile, the Container Gardening Project was another notable venture which was made as alternative to the Greenhouse when the latter was temporarily stopped due to the building construction/expansion of the Reception and Study Center for Children (RSCC), located within the Compound.

Nartea proposed the container project to ensure that food production continues However, it still exists today and is a sight to behold.

Marissa is resourceful. She taps other entities aside from herself sharing her own expertise. She has linked with the Department of Agriculture, Technical Services Development Authority and certain local government units. Most of these partnerships stem from her own initiative, for she strives to go an extra mile – with no limits.

Year 2016, the Regional Haven had 18 new sewing machines. Marissa had worked her way out for this acquisition for other residents to be able to have an individual machine for their training. Then in 2017, she pursued almost a yearlong training on sewing and production of dresses, bedsheets, curtains, and pillow cases, providing income from among the residents.

Marissa is known by her peers to be dependable – transparent in reporting expenses borne from the trainings and sales of products. With work, she performs with less supervision. And it is not only training women but doing also administrative work. She can also be relied upon in conducting orientations on the operations and policies of the center to volunteers, and monitoring their performance.

The nominee had gained a good track record. She had been a two-time PRAISE regional awardee for Best Support Staff for 2010 and 2018, while her Greenhouse Vegetable Production Project garnered a Certificate of Recognition as a Good Practice.

Perhaps, it is Marissa’s obsession to really put her heart and soul in what she is doing. The way things are going, she is lifting these poor vulnerable women to dream BIG and not just settle to what state they are in now.#