MANILA, Philippines – Mothers were all around the tent and she was at the back, holding a pen and a piece of paper.
She was writing her first letter to her child – yet to be born.
“While you were still in my womb, I would talk to you and pray that we will always be safe. Do you know how excited I am to see you? When you finally see the world, I pray that everything will be fine with you,” she started.
For a soon-to-be-mother like Jessica, there is no greater joy than to feel the life in her womb, growing with each passing day.
“After the typhoon, I thought I would have to raise my child alone. I am too young to become a widow but I told myself then that if my husband will not make it, I will work hard for my baby,” she recalled.
This was part of a culmination activity of Women and Young Children’s Space in Botongon, Estancia.
Pregnant during Yolanda
While Yolanda (Haiyan) was ravaging Central Visayas on November 8, 2013, her husband was out fishing.
She was then two months pregnant. (READ: Hungry and pregnant in the PH)
The next day, she went out and was caught off guard when she saw dead bodies on the shore. “I was trembling. I scanned the place but I was too scared to get near the bodies. What if my husband was among them?”
Fortunately, her husband was alive.
She waited the whole afternoon and she was relieved when he came. His boat capsized during the typhoon but he was able to hold on to floating tree trunks and was swept to another town. (READ: Agri and fisheries devastated by Yolanda)
“I could not contain my happiness. My child did not lose a father.”
When she heard of World Vision’s Women and Young Children’s Space (WAYCS) activity, she went and attended the different sessions. WAYCS is intended for lactating mothers and children below 5 years old. (WATCH: Survive five)
It is also space where even pregnant women learn about breastfeeding. (READ: Pregnant women and Yolanda)
“I never missed any class because I am interested to learn how to take care of my baby. The infant kit that I received will be very useful when I give birth.”
According to the UN Population Fund’s record, there are more than 250,000 pregnant women affected by Haiyan, while close to 170,000 are breastfeeding mothers. (READ: Breastfeeding during disasters)
The Department of Health (DOH) recorded 432 damaged health facilities 3 weeks after the typhoon.
Meanwhile, reports from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRM) have shown that 1.1 million houses were either partially or totally damaged. (READ: Yolanda, six months later)
These have put pregnant and breastfeeding women at higher risk. (READ: PH Milk Code)
Due date: Post-Yolanda
For mothers like Jessica, not even Haiyan can discourage them.
She wrote, “When things get really rough, I will be more than ready to endure the pains for you. I know that if you grow older, I will have to go through challenges in raising you but isn’t that what love is all about?”
Jessica is now on her 7th month of pregnancy and is excited to get on with life after Haiyan with her husband and coming child.
She completed the final part of her letter and put it inside a bottle she designed herself.
“When you grow old, I hope you can read this. This is where I wrote how much I love you. Always remember that I loved you even when you were in my womb. When you grow up and I am old, know that I will keep loving you.” – Rappler.com
For more information about World Vision Haiyan Response, please contact Communications Manager Cecil Laguardia: firstname.lastname@example.org, 0939-9262669.
Joy Maluyo is a Communication Officer for World Vision’s Haiyan Response. She is currently deployed in the Visayas and is moving around World Vision’s assisted areas in Panay Island, North Cebu, and Leyte.