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Joy Bajenting was pregnant with her fourth child when Typhoon Odette hit her coastal town in Dinagat Islands. It was nothing like she had experienced before. Her husband is a fisherman, so they live very close to the water and are used to seeing the rough seas. But to her, what she went through this time is nothing you could ever prepare anyone for. 


"More than my fears, as I'm already halfway through my pregnancy, I had to step up for my other children since they were so scared and confused with everything happening." 


Their house is made of light materials. The walls and the flooring were made of plywood, so the strong winds and heavy rain thrashed the tiny abode almost instantly. 


Joy, along with her three children, had to move fast to find a safer place to stay, bringing nothing. They ran as fast as they could until they found a concrete house that let them in together with other families seeking refuge. 


Meanwhile, her husband was out in the water, ensuring their boat, their primary source of income, was safe from the typhoon. Every item in their house got wiped out. The electricity got cut off, and her children were hungry. Fortunately, her neighbor had biscuits to share.


Joy couldn't imagine how her family survived that ordeal. A few months later, they welcomed Baby Richard, who brought hope as they slowly started over.  


"I could only do prenatal checkups after the typhoon. Indeed,  I had to prioritize my family's basic needs, setting aside time and resources for my visits to the health center was a luxury I couldn't afford at that time." 


Joy is one of 1,500 women in the Caraga region who received cash for health assistance as part of UNFPA's integrated response for sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence for the Typhoon Odette- affected communities. 


When disasters strike, women are most heavily impacted but are often left with responsibilities to provide care and support at the risk to their own health and wellbeing. UNFPA aimed to encourage pregnant women to seek care from health facilities, with a view towards changing mindsets and forming long-term habits of health-seeking behavior for facility-based care.  This intervention contributes to one of UNFPA’s transformative results: zero maternal deaths.


UNFPA’s cash assistance, implemented in partnership with World Vision, aims to alleviate the financial barriers which prevent  pregnant and postpartum women and girls from seeking services to meet their sexual and reproductive health needs and gender-based violence prevention and response support. 


"I am relieved to receive this cash assistance that prioritizes my needs and my babies' wellbeing. I'm also thankful to our barangay health worker who encouraged me to visit the health center for postnatal care regularly."


Six months since the typhoon, and it's still a long way to recovery for Joy and her community, but with renewed hope, she's optimistic that there's a bright future ahead for her and her baby. 




UNFPA Philippines’ Integrated Sexual Reproductive Health and Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response to Super Typhoon Rai (Odette) implemented by World Vision with funding from the United Nations Central Emergency Fund (UN CERF)