Filipina immigrant gives back to Philippines

SALT LAKE CITY — Jenneth Doria has long lived in the United States, but she hasn’t forgotten about the country of her birth.

That’s why she and her husband, Rene, started a nonprofit humanitarian aid organization called IHHELPP (Improving Health, Housing, Education and Livelihood of the Poor in the Philippines).

“Our vision is actually to see people, especially the ones who are poor and needy, to have equal opportunities and to have a good quality of life,” Doria said.

Building restroom facilities for schools in storm- and earthquake-ravaged communities is one way IHHELPP strives to accomplish that.

“Being able to utilize a functional and a clean bathroom correlates with well-being, with good health, and sanitation,” Doria said.

In just over five years, IHHELPP has helped build seven CRs, which, according to Doria, is keeping students in school.

“Because there’s really no sufficient bathroom in the schools, they have to go home,” she said. “But a lot of times they wouldn’t come back to class after they’ve gone home. So now, they have an accessible bathroom. They use it. They come back to class.”

In addition to running IHHELPP, Doria also works at the University of Utah as an assistant professor for the College of Nursing.

She recently received Utah’s Dare to Care Award for her humanitarian work and outstanding contribution to nursing and healthcare.

“It’s not really for me alone,” Doria said, “but I accept it on behalf of people who embrace humanity with its strengths and flaws. We need to help each other.”

She hopes her story inspires her kababayans to “pay it forward.”

“We don’t need to be wealthy to do this,” Doria said. “What we can do is leverage whatever position we have to advance quality of life for people around us.”

Accordingly, Doria and IHHELPP are already planning their next project: building two more restroom facilities that will benefit more than 300 students in Central Visayas.

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