by Leoniza O. Morales, World Vision Haiyan Response Communications

In the aftermath of any disaster, women and mothers bear the brunt of taking care of the children and the needs of the entire family amidst scanty resources.

Few days after Typhoon Haiyan smashed communities in central Philippines, World Vision immediately set up spaces to address the survival and protection needs of children and women, the most vulnerable to poor health, abuse and exploitation in every disaster or crisis situation.

Based on the report of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), out of the 14.1 million people affected women and girls of child-bearing age accounts for more than 3.5 million. Pregnant women are 254,117 and breastfeeding mothers are 169,412.

Women and Young Children Space (WaYCS) was set up to provide mothers and women space to breastfeed infants, share experiences with other mothers and learn better ways to maintain the health, nutrition and hygiene of their children after the disaster.

More than a hundred village health workers were trained on infant and young child health and nutrition. Psychological first aid was also given to the communities.

“By attending sessions, we are inspired to be good mothers, to take care of our children. You have shown us the vital role of being a mother,” says Elsa Gabrino.

World Vision staff with the help of trained health volunteers from the communities facilitated various learning and creative activities to support the women regain a sense of normalcy and strengthen their resilience for self-recovery.

Rona Pabilando shares the same experience, “thank you for teaching us everything about being a good mother.”

World Vision has established 14 WaYCS serving 2,091 pregnant and lactating mothers in the provinces of Leyte, Cebu, Aklan and Iloilo.

For Jenibel Camposana the women’s space teaches her and other mothers proper hand washing and practical ways of taking care of her children, while providing a space for and encouraging the practice of breastfeeding that can ensure newborn children have a healthy start at life. 

World Vision has turned over WaYCS to the village council and rural health units which committed to sustain the learning activities for mothers and women.