Typhoon survivor: giving up one child to save another

by Katie Nguyen | Katie_Nguyen1 | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 8 October 2009 15:01 GMT

Jenny Canela, 21, was evacuated to the Cupang Elementary School in Manila on Sept. 26 when devastating floods caused by Typhoon Ketsana inundated her home. She has been living in the evacuation centre with her husband and two-year-old son, where she spoke to AlertNet correspondent Katie Nguyen.

MANILA (AlertNet) - When I wake up all I can think about is how I will cope with my labour. IÂ?m too scared of delivering in the evacuation centre Â? my doctor said I had a weak heart and erratic blood pressure -- so IÂ?ve decided come what may to take the bus to the hospital tomorrow which is two hours away. IÂ?m planning to put my baby up for adoption at an orphanage because we donÂ?t have enough money to look after the child.

I donÂ?t think I have any choice because of the flooding. My husband used to be a tricycle taxi driver, but he can hardly earn any money now because so many areas are still flooded so he canÂ?t get any fares.

Any small money we have now will be used to replace those things we lost. If I donÂ?t give up my unborn baby I canÂ?t see any way of supporting my son, JR.

And I canÂ?t ask my parents for help because they are no longer alive. My father was stabbed to death in 1993 and four years later my mother died some time after experiencing complications during her last pregnancy.

The rest of my family have trouble feeding themselves let alone helping me.

I spend most of my time here, sitting and thinking. I would love the chance to see my baby from time to time, just to see where he or she is living and assure myself that it is doing alright.

I know that might be a dream but I live in hope. IÂ?ve made my decision and have to accept it. I will just pour all my love and attention to JR.

After this one I will have no more because life is so hard and I donÂ?t want my children to suffer like I have.

IÂ?m expecting to deliver by Caesarean because the last time I had a check-up the doctor said the baby was in the wrong position. WeÂ?ll have to find 25,000 pesos to pay for the operation which will be difficult since my husband isnÂ?t working. On a good day he used to earn 300 and half that if business was bad.

When the floodwaters rushed into our rented apartment, we escaped upstairs to the second floor. The water rose so fast. JR was asleep at the time and I was so frightened for him. When it receded to waist-level, we left for the evacuation centre. I carried JR in my arms, wading past our bed that was floating down the street. We lost everything Â? our television and electric fan, our photos, even JRÂ?s birth certificate and my health card. WeÂ?ve been given blankets by an aid agency, which is more than we had at home.

Since IÂ?ve been living in this evacuation centre, IÂ?ve slept so badly. ItÂ?s very noisy here. People have to line up early to get water so they practically donÂ?t sleep. I donÂ?t really feel safe either because a lot of the children are getting sick and thereÂ?s been fighting. Drinking has been banned and some of the men are angry. WeÂ?ve witnessed two drunken brawls involving men with knives. ThereÂ?s nothing to separate them from the rest of us, so we feel quite vulnerable.

Below is a slideshow of pictures taken by AlertNet correspondent Katie Nguyen on Oct 8, 2009 in the Philippines.

For more information put cursor over screen. For captions click on bottom right hand of screen.

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