#ProjectAgos: Letter to Baby Yesha, daughter of social media

Voltaire Tupaz

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#ProjectAgos: Letter to Baby Yesha, daughter of social media
The world can be cruel, but may your birth be a constant reminder of its capacity to collaborate and show kindness – both offline and online – in times of disaster, in times of need

Dear Baby Yesha,

Welcome to the world!

You were born on a harsh day, September 19, 2014, hours after Tropical Storm Mario hit land. Floodwaters rushed into your family’s cramped shanty in Barangay Tatalon, Quezon City.

Your young brothers – all 5 of them – and your paralyzed aunt shuddered in fear as the wind howled. Your mother Riza evacuated them to the roof, one by one, while in labor.

Kahit na sakit na sakit na tiyan ko, inakyat ko pa rin mga anak ko at ate ko,” your mother recalled. (I was already in great pain, but I had to evacuate my sons and my elder sister.)

You were lucky to have a brave mother. She went through a lot in life – lost two babies and single-handedly raised your siblings.

With the meager income she earns from scavenging, she couldn’t give you diapers, a crib, or even a permanent home. She fears you will be homeless if she does not find money to pay the rent this month.

But one thing is sure, she will do everything to protect you.

When you were so excited to come out in the middle of the storm, she stopped you and endured the pain until she reached the hospital.

Ayaw niyang ilabas hanggang mapipigilan niya. Siguro, gusto niyang medyo komportable siyang mailabas ang baby,” recalled Gretchen Marasigan, one of Philippine Red Cross (PRC) volunteers who rescued your mother.

(She tried to stop the baby from coming out as long as she could. Maybe, she wanted to give her a comfortable birth.” 

Indeed, how your mother was rescued while in labor is an inspiring tale of solidarity among selfless volunteers, strangers, and brave responders. And the collaboration was facilitated by digital technology and social media. (READ: Project Agos: Pregnant woman, HIV patient rescued)

As your mother put it, her cry for help was “texted to social media.”

It is now etched in the map of Project Agos, an online platform that enables citizens, civil society and government to collaborate before, during, and after disasters.

Your mother did not have a mobile phone, but she had neighbors and friends who had and were on social media.

The Project Agos team was able to monitor a Twitter and Facebook report from the women’s group Gabriela (@gabrielaphils) about your mother’s situation.

We contacted Bernadette Andales, a member of the group in the area to verify the report plotted on the Agos Alert Map and relayed it to PRC.

In no time, we received a text message from PRC Secretary General Gwen Pang: “A bouncing baby girl for Riza Delgado. Normal delivery at EAMC (East Avenue Medical Center).” 

PROJECT AGOS. Using Rappler's disaster information system, netizens help send rescuers to a woman in labor on an emergency during Tropical Storm Mario (Fung-Wong)

A year ago, Project Agos was just a subject of a speech and a mere sketch. (WATCH: #ProjectAgos: One-stop shop for climate change)

I recall saying: “Bawa’t patak ng text, or tweet, or post sa Facebook ay maaaring maging agos ng impormasyon na maghahanda sa ating harapin ang hamon ng panahon.” (Every text or tweet or post on Facebook could be a stream of information that could prepare us to face the weather challenge.)

Now, it is not only facilitating the flow of information but also the surge of generosity that saves lives.

The world can be cruel, but may your birth be a constant reminder of its capacity to collaborate and show kindness  – both offline and online – in times of disaster, in times of need. – Rappler.com

Baby Yesha needs clothes, diapers, a crib and other baby needs. For any in-kind donations you would like to make, please contact Gabriela Philippines:

Twitter: @gabrielaphils
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gabriela.alliance
Email: gabriela.phils@gmail.com
Office address: 35 Scout Delgado St. Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City, Philippines



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