A Mother's Loss Highlights Challenges Ahead After Typhoon Haiyan
Evelyn was pregnant when Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record anywhere in the world, struck her village in Hernani, Eastern Samar. As the wind began to howl and the rain started to pour, Evelyn brought her three children to her mother's house, knowing all the while that she was going into early labor.
For three days, she endured a prolonged and agonizing labor at her mother's badly damaged home. It was a difficult breech delivery by a local doctor who had help from her relatives. After what felt like an eternity, Evelyn's baby was born stillborn. The shock has still not had time to set in.
“My eyes are swollen because I have cried so much,” she says.
“I am sad because it hurts. I was thinking that my baby is alive but my niece told me that it has already died. Every time I remember my baby, I’m crying,” she says.
After the birth, Evelyn was taken to a local hospital. Thankfully, she did not have any complications and didn’t need a blood transfusion. Unable to return to her home because of the damage, she went to live with her mother.
Even grief feels like a luxury. Evelyn is focusing all of her energy on supporting her three surviving children, aged 4, 7, and 11. Her husband is currently working in the capital city of Manila to support their family. Because of this, Evelyn is relying on her extended family for help. But the typhoon has affected everyone and her family is also struggling to come to terms with what has happened.
“It is quite hard because I am all alone and I don’t have work. I don’t have any supply of food,” she adds. “All I want for my children is to feed them three times a day, to educate them and to have things for school for them.”
Plan Responds to the Enormous Need
Typhoon Haiyan has killed more than 6,000 people and has left more than 4 million people displaced. Many, like Evelyn, are now staying with family or friends. Every month, 25,000 babies will be born in areas affected by the typhoon. This presents enormous challenges as medical services are already strained to the breaking point and supplies are scarce.
Plan is supporting the Department of Health to get the health facilities that were damaged and destroyed by the typhoon back into operation. This includes supplying equipment, medicine and training on health in emergencies for nurses and midwives. Plan staff are also supporting mothers and children to get to hospital quickly when there are danger signs or complications.
Plan is also repairing damaged health facilities and providing mobile clinics that provide basic services such as antenatal care, post-natal checks, and immunization and treatment for sick children and those suffering from malnutrition. These services are linked to child-friendly play spaces and food distribution.
For Evelyn, life goes on – slowly – but the tragedy of losing her fourth child is something that she will never forget and she will need ongoing emotional support. This may come from friends, relatives or the psychosocial support that organizations like Plan offer on the ground in affected communities. It’s a long road ahead, but one that Evelyn is determined to travel for the sake of her surviving children.
Make a donation to the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund and help us deliver support to the children and families who need it the most.