Posted By: Jon Brack on November 7, 2014

Labels: The Philippines , Disaster-Relief, Women’s and Children’s Health, Health Systems Strengthening, Volunteers

Beneficiaries of Project HOPE's maternal and child health program in Bantayan Island, the Philippines

Jon Brack, a volunteer photojournalist from Washington D.C., spent two weeks traveling with our Board of Directors delegation to the Philippines and Indonesia starting in late October 2014.  The delegation is visiting our program beneficiaries and sites.

Bantayan Island sits off the west coast of northern Cebu, a low-lying area covered in coconut trees and fields of sugarcane surrounded by expansive white sand beaches. This flat terrain provided no natural protection from Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the destruction from which was extensive.  Winds from the typhoon removed roofs, flattened trees, knocked over houses and sunk fishing boats. Though fishermen are back out in repaired boats, and the roof is intact again on the town's centuries-old church, Bantayan is still recovering and rebuilding from such a destructive storm.

As a sign of the islanders’ resiliency, the Project HOPE Board of Directors delegation was met getting off of their ferry by the dancing and drumbeats of the Santa Fe High School Marching Band. We boarded a bus and drove through town to the Santa Fe Health Station and their new birthing center. It was very exciting to see Project HOPE stickers on the newly donated equipment and supplies in the facility already going to good use delivering babies.

Beneficiaries of Project HOPE's maternal and child health program in Bantayan Island, the Philippines

HOPE's programs in Bantayan are focused on the Maternal, Neonatal, Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) Project. By increasing demand for and strengthening the quality of these MNCHN services, HOPE aims to reduce the morbidity and mortality rates of these at-risk groups.

Next we were off to the Bantayan District Hospital, the only hospital on the island, to tour the facility and see a presentation about their history and how they've rebuilt after the typhoon. They also had a wide variety of Project HOPE-donated supplies in their recently constructed maternity ward.

From there we headed downtown to the Bantayan Municipal Hall for a lunch hosted by the mayor and attended by several members of the local government. We walked over to the rural health center to observe its first prenatal class for pregnant women in the newly reconstructed building. The nurses, midwifes and new mothers were very proud of their new facility and thankful for all Project HOPE had done to make the reconstruction happen.

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