Health Worker Karen Irene B. Dames. Photo credit: USAID/Philippines

Karen Irene B. Dames is a dedicated nurse at the Rural Health Unit of Alangalang, Leyte, where she begins each day with a mission to transform lives affected by substance use in the heart of the Philippines. When the Philippines government launched the Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation (CBDR) program in 2016, Karen was initially reluctant to step into a leadership role within the program. Her perspective shifted dramatically after training with USAID’s RenewHealth project. This program aims to provide accessible, community-centered healthcare and rehabilitation services. Karen’s daily commitment is fueled by a profound sense of her calling, as she leverages her training to deliver a comprehensive spectrum of services from screening and treatment to family support and reintegration.

The impact of the CBDR program under Karen’s stewardship has been profound. In 2023 alone, her efforts led to over 300 people enrolling in the program, with a remarkable completion rate of over 90%. Her dedication not only brings healing to individuals and families but also strengthens the entire community’s health system. Karen was honored with the Health Service Achiever award for her exceptional service and affirming her pivotal role in Alangalang’s recognition for outstanding anti-drug abuse efforts. Behind every thank you message from grateful families lies Karen’s unwavering commitment to fostering recovery and resilience. Her story is a beacon of hope and a testament to the power of dedicated health service professionals in changing lives.