By Sandar Linn
Photos: ©UNICEF Philippines/2014/JReyna
Valentina Son, 41, District Nurse (South Guiuan)
I have been working as a District Nurse at Department of Education for nine years. I monitor students’ heights and weights, administer deworming pills, and provide health education. I am responsible for 17 elementary schools, of which eight are located on islands. I visit each school six times per year. Typhoon Yolanda destroyed most of those schools.
My house was washed away as well. Never in my life did I think I’d be homeless. But I was thankful that all my family survived. So instead of grieving, I resumed my work immediately because I knew that children needed my help now more than ever before.
Most families here depend on fishing and small menial jobs to earn their livelihood. So when Yolanda washed away their boats and houses, of course the first thing they focused on was rebuilding their houses and finding jobs. Children’s hygiene was neglected. Thankfully, UNICEF provided us with hygiene kits for children so we can make sure at least basic hygiene standards are kept.
Transportation is difficult here in south Guiuan. Yolanda destroyed most of the boats. But this doesn’t stop me from reaching children in need to make sure they maintain good hygiene in this critical time. Good hygiene is essential to protect them from disease.
Sometimes I’m worried, not knowing when I’ll be able to rebuild my own house. But I don’t want to be just a victim of Yolanda. I want to help. I want to help make sure our children are well and healthy, especially in a critical time like this. Yolanda destroyed my house and all my belongings but it also made the love I have for my family and my work stronger.
Watch a short documentary about Typhoon Haiyan’s continued impact on the Philippines: