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The Philippines, Two Months After Typhoon Haiyan

Our "baby tent" program provides safe spaces for moms and little ones to recover and regain their health
Child in baby tent
This little girl is in a program with her mother at an Action Against Hunger "baby tent" in the Philippines. Photo: A. Varraine Leca

Two months have now elapsed since Typhoon Haiyan caused massive death and destruction across the Philippines. The Filipino population will be digging out for a long time to come—digging out from the rubble, and digging out from the catastrophic emotional toll the storm has taken on so many families.

Building resilience in mothers and children

At Action Against Hunger, we’re devoted to supporting Filipinos as they rebuild their lives. This week, for example, we’re launching our tenth “baby tent,” a space where pregnant women, mothers, and their young children can come to get back on their feet. The tents, funded with the support of UNICEF, allow us to provide nutritional support, helping moms start breastfeeding their little ones again. At the same time, we’re offering psychological services to assist women in coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD can have serious health consequences, and it can certainly correlate with undernutrition among the young children of mothers who suffer.

“Working with moms here, I see how strong they are—always smiling, acting happy for their children. But when I engage them in dialogue about what they went through with Typhoon Haiyan, they crumble.”

Núria Diez, Psychologist & Baby Tent Program Coordinator, Action Against Hunger-Philippines

Helping the healing begin

Our job is to make sure moms know they’re safe, and that it’s okay to feel the pain of what they went through to get on the road toward healing.

“Most of the moms haven’t spoken to anyone about their experience with the typhoon—how they feel, how they mourn loves one lost. In the baby tents, women find the community of support they need. We do group discussions on important topics like hygiene, nutrition, infant care practices, and children’s education—but we also give them space to laugh, cry, mourn, and generally express themselves to other women who know what they’ve been through.”

Núria Diez, Psychologist & Baby Tent Program Coordinator, Action Against Hunger-Philippines

The baby tents also help mothers and children bond in the wake of great obstacles. The programs are participatory, positive—and they make a lasting difference.

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