How Women Are Rebuilding After Typhoon Haiyan: Elsa Morales

“We are very lucky the storm surge didn’t really touch my town,”said Manuel Boy’ Sia Que, the mayor of Dulag municipality. “We only had one-half to one meter storm surge.”

In Ormoc, a city about an hour and a half from Tacloban, one of the hardest hit cities during Typhoon Haiyan is also like another nearby city, Dulag. Ormoc didn’t get the huge storm surge like Tacloban that took thousands of lives, but they did bear the brunt of the torrential winds.

Elsa Morales lost everything during the storm. A single mother, her husband left her in 2005. In 2009 World Vision gave her a pig to provide a livelihood for her and her four children.  She has been raising pigs organically ever since by feeding them natural plants instead of commercial feeds and creating her own fertilizers.

Elsa Morales' Pregnant Sow
Morales’ pregnant sow eats swamp cabbage. It is abundant and organic food for her pigs.

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Survivors Mark One Year Anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan

Photo: Matthew Paul Turner

It is difficult to believe one year has passed since Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines’ central islands. Claiming the lives of over 6,000 people with 1,100 still missing, Haiyan was one of the most devastating and deadly cyclones to ever hit the country.

In the aftermath of the storm, emergency efforts from non-governmental agencies commenced rather quickly. World Vision, for example, has worked in the Philippines for over fifty years and was one of the first NGO responders to the crisis. Many World Vision staff in Tacloban started helping the community as soon as they knew the whereabouts of their family members. But, the devastation and lack of communications created an environment where it took World Vision’s Haiyan Response team two days to reach Tacloban from Manila. On an ordinary day, it only takes an hour. The first order of business was to locate all local staff and then the emergency phase began.

“We started moving very quickly getting out basic necessities like food and potable water,” said Jenny MacCann, World Vision Haiyan Response Operations Director.  “We also started cash for work programs and debris clearance.”

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Women Celebrated on This Year’s World Humanitarian Day #WomenHumanitarians

Today is World Humanitarian Day, the annual day where we celebrate humanitarians all over the world who work every day to save lives even in some of the world’s most dangerous countries. This year the world is celebrating women humanitarians as often they are on the front lines in our world’s worst crises.

We know that it can be especially harrowing to be an aid worker in countries like Syria, Yemen, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. We appreciate all of their efforts to continue to work even in dangerous circumstances. Read 24 hours of stories of women front line humanitarians on worldhumanitarianday.org.

Today, I would like to celebrate an aid worker I met in the Philippines when I traveled with World Vision USA to see their life-saving work after the devastating typhoon, Haiyan. Her name is Mai Zamora and she left an indelible impression on me. She was always upbeat despite the number of families who were in need of everything from food and jobs to housing and clothing. And, she was always available for questions and has personal stories about how she fared during the typhoon. When I met her, she was the definition of an aid worker to me along with her colleagues who are still doing amazing work in the Philippines and around the world.

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Duracell Distributes $1 Million of Batteries in Puerto Rico for Hurricane Relief

With nearly 84% of Puerto Rico still without power after Hurricane Maria, Duracell has arrived on the island today and will distribute $1 million of batteries as well as charging mobile devices and internet access through its Power Forward initiative. When natural disasters occur Duracell helps to reconnect communities. Puerto Rico will be its largest distribution effort since it launched in 2011. PowerForward will charge mobile devices, … Continue reading Duracell Distributes $1 Million of Batteries in Puerto Rico for Hurricane Relief

Double Your Donation Today By Giving to World Vision #GivingTuesday

When I travel to low-income countries I am most interested in learning about and reporting on maternal and newborn health. As a mother of two daughters it is my biggest passion. Today on Giving Tuesday I am proud to work with one of my favorite international nonprofit organizations: World Vision USA. I had the distinct opportunity to travel with them to the Philippines a few years … Continue reading Double Your Donation Today By Giving to World Vision #GivingTuesday

Why We’re Traveling to Nepal With Coca-Cola #NepalNow #5by20

Last year I remember exactly where I was when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. I was on my way to Haiti to report on maternal health, and really good friends of mine from the International Reporting Project had been in Nepal for a very short time on a reporting trip when the quake hit. I remember tweeting them to see if everything was okay. Thankfully they were and wrote amazing, insightful articles from their harrowing experience on the ground. Even though I wasn’t in Nepal, knowing people who were and reported once the quake happened brought the crisis close to home.

The way in which countries respond to disasters varies. One thing is certain: governments cannot shoulder massive disaster relief alone. I learned this once I saw the coordinated one-year disaster relief in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. Relief, I’ve learned, is always a combination of public and private partnerships that work in tandem to benefit citizens that have been hardest hit. Sometimes it is not easy and the coordination may be a bit slow-going, but the truth is private companies that have apositive, established footprint in countries with an excellent track record can benefit government and NGO partners with logistics support, private enterprise expertise, and most importantly finances.

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Why Breastfeeding Matters to Babies and Mothers

This post was originally published today on the World Vision USA’s blog.

When I visit low- and middle-income countries like Ethiopia, Zambia, the Philippines, and Tanzania, I am always heartened by the number of mothers I see breastfeeding their babies. Breastfeeding for so many of these mothers is the best and most affordable way for them to nourish their babies. While every mother does not breastfeed to be sure, the sheer number of mothers I see breastfeeding at local clinics, while walking with their baby strapped to them or taking a break on a city bench, gives me hope.

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You’ve Seen the News. Want to Help Nepal? Send Cash!

W10001533_W260-0025-051A 7.9 earthquake hit Central Nepal today. Over 1394 people are reported thus far to have lost their lives in this natural disaster that unfortunately has been predicted by many. Much of Kathmandu’s infrastructure is in ruins, temples have been lost, electricity is out, and thousands are without shelter.

The best way to help in this disaster situation is to donate money to international NGOs that are well-versed in disaster relief. They have entire teams who are trained how to start, ask the right questions, and can deploy emergency shelter, food, water, and everyday necessities. They also know how to provide medical relief and aid and in the long run can help families with work in order to earn money in an environment that has been reduced to rubble.

I saw the wide-sweeping and effective relief efforts of international NGOs  after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines when I visited with a World Vision USA team for the one year anniversary in 2014. I know that because of large NGOs’ experience and coordinated efforts they can help disaster relief rapidly and in tandem with the Nepalese government. In fact, the UN has a coordinated system already in place called Cluster Coordination so that NGOs work together and not in vacuous sylos.

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PHOTOS: Women and Water in the Philippines

Across the globe 748 million people still lack access to clean drinking water every day. Dirty water leads to a whole host of waterborne diseases including diarrhea, one of the top three killers of children under the age of five. One of the main challenges that NGOs face when providing clean water to people is that there is rarely a guarantee that when clean water is provided to a village or community it will continue to flow.

World Vision is the largest NGO provider of clean water in low- and middle-income countries. In fact, in 2014, World Vision provided clean drinking water to people in 2,416 villages in Africa. And, because of their work, one person gets access to clean water every 30  seconds.

On a recent trip to the Philippines with World Vision USA I saw some of their water projects in small, rural villages.  AfterTyphoon Haiyan World Vision worked to get clean water flowing  via gravity from springs to villages at the base of mountains. In addition to providing water to the villages, World Vision also provides community awareness programs to also teach the community members about sanitation.

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Our 12 Biggest Highlights of 2014

2014 was a very good year! We partnered with leading NGOs and nonprofits to advance causes that mean the difference between life and death and quality living for the world’s poorest citizens. We traveled around the world to report on water and sanitation, newborns, maternal health, disaster relief, and health workers. We traveled domestically to report on some of our partners’ milestone seminars, conferences, and panels. But most importantly, we kept the momentum going to work collectively as mothers who use social media for good.

We very much look forward to 2015 and what it has in store. Here are our twelve highlight moments of 2014 – in no particular order.

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Why This 21-Year-Old Filipino Mother Dropped Out of School in 6th Grade

I met Jasmine and her son, Kent John, 7-months-old, on a sunny day at a free health clinic in Ormoc, a busy port city on Leyte island in the Philippines. At just 21-year-old Jasmine came to the clinic because Kent John had been experiencing a cough and fever for two weeks.

Luckily located very close to the clinic, Jasmine takes her son to the clinic for his regular immunizations and goes anytime Kent John is ill. Sometimes she has to wait for two hours before being seen by Glenda B. Serato, the health clinic’s nurse.

“I am confident with my baby’s health because I can access free immunizations and medicine,” Jasmine says through translation.

The mothers I spoke to including Jasmine mention always coming to the clinic for their children’s  immunizations even though many live deep in the rural areas where rice and sugar fields are abundant and access to health services are not.

“The mothers are educated now,” Serato confirms. “It is very rare that mothers don’t get their children vaccinated.”

During Typhoon Haiyan that devastated much of Leyte island, Jasmine was five months pregnant, but was able to deliver her first child, Kent John, via C-section at a public hospital. Now, she is taking oral contraceptives to space her children with her husband, who drives a motorcycle for a living.

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One Mother’s Story Of Giving Birth in a Hospital Instead of At Home

Merida, Philippines – I met Jocelyn Pingos, 27, in Merida, Leyte on a bright, sunny tropical day in the Philippines. A mother of four, Jocelyn sat outside her local health center and waited patiently to have her youngest, Lenith, 10 months, looked at because of a nagging cough. Her second youngest, Jelenia, 3, was also with her. Jocelyn’s other children who are 9 and 6 were attending school.

When Jocelyn delivered Lenith earlier this year, she and her husband decided that she should have a tubal ligation two months after her delivery.

“I have no plans to have any more children,” Jocelyn said.

Lenith

Jocelyn delivered her two youngest, Jelenia and Lenith, at the local hospital. Her two oldest were delivered at home. “For the first two, the midwife came to my home,” Jocelyn remembered. “The midwife wasn’t available for the last two.”

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New homes recreate shattered lives in the Philippines

This post was originally published on the World Vision USA blog.

At everyone’s most basic level, we all want somewhere to lay our head every night. Filipinos living in the path of last year’s Typhoon Haiyan’s early morning storm surge and over 300km/hour winds lost everything within a 30-minute span, including their homes, and many, sadly, lost loved ones.

Those tracking the storm before it hit on November 8, 2013 projected that Typhoon Haiyan would reach the islands by 9 AM, but it sped up and reached landfall around 5 AM, just as everyone was sleeping. No one knew Haiyan would be as powerful as it was.

New homes recreate shattered lives | World Vision Blog
Photo: Jeana Shandraw/SurfandSunshine.com

After the storm, entire families were relegated to living in tents until temporary shelter kits could be delivered. Some live in makeshift and patchwork homes built from scraps even today, and some still do not have homes to call their own a year after Haiyan. And yet, there are some families who have been given the keys to a new home, one that was creatively designed to withstand high winds, rain, and – yes – even typhoons.

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Why We’re Headed to the Philippines With World Vision USA

On November 8, the world will recognize the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, the superstorm that devastated much of the Philippines and claimed 6,300 lives. 1000 people are still reported missing.

It’s difficult to believe that it has already been a year since we were stunned by the horrific photos that raced across the wires of bloated bodies lining the streets, people sitting listless in the middle of rubble, and a huge ship in the middle of Tacloban City. While Haiyan is the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines, the 7100 islands country experiences 19 typhoons every year.

Next Monday I will head to the Philippines along with Social Good Mom and Global Team of 200 member Jeana Shandraw with our partner  World Vision USA to see their recovery work on the ground since Haiyan hit the islands last year. We will see devastated areas that are a part of a “no build’ zone, community savings groups that have helped families rebuild, child trafficking protection programs funded by USAID, health centers, and area development programs. On November 8 we will attend a one-year anniversary vigil.

World Vision distributes food and hygiene kits to families affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Bantigui, Ormoc, on 26 November 2013
World Vision distributes food and hygiene kits to families affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Bantigui, Ormoc, on 26 November 2013

If you follow my work you know I travel often to see NGOs work on the ground. This will be my first time traveling with and seeing World Vision’s work and am interested to report on its recovery efforts in the Philippines.  To date, World Vision has reached 760,000 people with a goal of reaching 1 million beneficiaries. World Vision has also provided 51,000 temporary shelter kits and is working with the government to ensure homes are built in safer areas among a long list of recovery services it provides.

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Our Global Health Reporting Around the World

One of the leading principles of Social Good Moms is to make sure our dedicated members have opportunities to report on global health and development programs on the ground with our partners in low-and-middle-income countries. Each year we take Social Good Moms on our own insight trips and similarly we work directly with our partners to plan learning trips to see their work abroad with influential members. If … Continue reading Our Global Health Reporting Around the World