Monday, 18 November 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: Jhana and Gwendolyn's story

Jhana with her UNICEF hygiene kit in Tacloban
© UNICEF Philippines/2013/Kent Page

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Tacloban has become a makeshift home for 300 families whose homes were wiped out by Super Typhoon Haiyan. Among them is 20-year old Jhana, a proud new mother of a very special daughter, Gwendolyn.

Gwendolyn was born just one week before Haiyan struck. "The typhoon washed away our home" says Jhana , as she breast feeds Gwendolyn amongst the hundreds of others sheltered amongst the church pews. "But she is my angel and I will do everything to make her life beautiful."

In the afternoon, Unicef and ACF in partnership distributed 300 hygiene kits to the families sheltering at the church. Each hygiene kit contains essential supplies such as bath and laundry soap, sanitary napkins, toothbrushes and toothpaste, sufficient for a family of six. "We are feeling lucky today, says Jhana. "Tonight we have soap and toothpaste and will be able to wash our clothes!"

Tomorrow is Sunday and Jhana looks forward to the first church service she can participate in since the typhoon wreaked destruction across the Philippines. "I will pray for Gwendolyn to be happy and healthy, says Jhana.

"I have no home but i have my beautiful angel with me", she says as Gwendolyn happily continues to suckle, perhaps because she knows how lucky she and her mother have been to survive Thphoon Haiyan.

Today and yesterday, Unicef and partners like ACF have distributed 2,500 hygiene kits and more are on the way. Air Asia is providing free airlift for 3,000 hygiene kits for Unicef on their flights from Manila to Tacloban.

Jhana breastfeeds her daughter Gwendolyn in Tacloban
© UNICEF Philippines/2013/Kent Page

The author
Kent Page, Senior Advisor Strategic Communications, UNICEF Philippines