Mother and daughter side-by-side

When the helpers need a little help

Mirasol and Evangeline, her second daughter, have a lot in common.

Both women have an interest in health care and responding to the needs of the most vulnerable members of their community. And neither one of them expected that one day, they would be the ones needing assistance.

Mirasol is a 42-year-old Barangay Health Worker from San Ricardo, in the Philippines. Her husband Ernie, 49, is a carpenter. Together they have four children, from 9 to 22 years old.

Mirasol’s job involves monitoring the health of the people in her community, especially the more vulnerable members which include expecting mothers, babies, young children, and the elderly.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Evangeline is a 19-year-old college student who is planning to take up midwifery. She says she wants to work in health care because she was greatly impacted by the death of her sibling who died of pneumonia at 5-years-old.

When Typhoon Rai swept into the Philippines in December 2021, it caused wind damage, flooding and landslides, interrupting road access, power and communications systems.

The disaster destroyed homes in Mirasol’s town and affected the local population’s access to food and clean water.

Mirasol remembers how strong the winds were. Because of the intensity of the storm, her family was among the many in her community forced to leave. They stayed in the evacuation centre for three days and when they returned to their village, they discovered that their house was totally washed out. For three weeks after the typhoon, they had no access to running water. They also had no electricity for three months.  

With their shelter and belongings destroyed by the storm, and with no access to water and electricity, it was a challenge to feed their family of six.

Plan International Canada, with support from the Government of Canada through the Humanitarian Coalition, provided cash assistance to families, including Mirasol’s, to address their immediate humanitarian needs. They used the money to buy rice, food commodities, and other necessities.  

Evangeline says that the impact of Typhoon Rai only further exacerbated their community’s health-care problems as people struggled to meet even their most basic needs.

It also negatively impacted the availability of menstrual health and hygiene supplies in markets and health centres, so when Plan International distributed Menstrual Health Management kits to the young women impacted by the storm, Evangeline says they were of great help to managing their monthly cycles.

Several months after Typhoon Rai, Mirasol and her family are slowly recovering. And Evangeline is back to making plans for the future. “For myself, I have no other dream but to finish my education,” she says. “For my family, I want them to have a good home, and for my siblings to finish school.”