According to the UN, an estimated 235,000 pregnant women and 130,000 nursing mothers have been affected by the devastating typhoon in the Philippines. Many medical and health facilities were damaged in the disaster, adding to the challenges now facing nursing moms and moms-to-be. In all of Oxfam’s efforts to help typhoon survivors, we are working to reach the most vulnerable people and make sure their essential needs—like clean water and sanitation—are met.
Below, Golda Hilario , an Oxfam program officer who was part of the emergency response team in the Philippines, blogs about two families she met in Tacloban just days after the storm.
It was half past one in the afternoon. The heat was at its highest point. My teammate Jermaine and I found a school that families were using as an evacuation center.
In the school I met Jonalyn Felipe. She’s 21 and four months pregnant with her first baby. Before the typhoon, the couple was renting a room in a boarding house close to this informal evacuation center.
Jonalyn told me about the typhoon. “We were at the boarding house. I never thought that the water would rise so much. We had to break out of the roof of the house to get away. That was the first time that I had experienced anything like this. We were used to typhoons, but I just did not imagine that the situation would be like this.
“We went back to the boarding house afterwards, but it is no longer livable. We just took the things that can still be used, to dry them here,” said Jonalyn, pointing to a pile of crumpled clothes that her husband Rexon was folding.
“We desperately needed food, water, and a place to stay now. We thought of leaving Tacloban but decided against it. I might have survived the typhoon but may not survive the journey. Before the typhoon came, I went to the doctor and was nearly confined. I have asthma. The doctor prescribed two medicines—I could not find the other one but this is the other thing.” Jonalyn pulled a strip of foil from a pair of Rexon’s shiny leather shoes.
I examined the medicine. “This is folic acid. You need this for your baby. Please take it,” I prodded Jonalyn, remembering that my own sister was also prescribed with the same prenatal vitamin. Read the rest of this entry »