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Nanay Bayanihan

I’m sure I don’t need to explain why I haven’t been writing lately. My thoughts and emotions have been on a roller coaster. I’m sure you guys can relate. Every since the weekend of Typhoon Yolanda, all of us have our own stories to tell. I’ve shared bits and pieces of Nanay Bayanihan on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and I finally have the mojo to actually write about it.

Nanay Bayanihan all started with a mother’s concern. Camille was in Villamor fetching survivors and found herself in the midst of the action. In the early days of the relief operations, there was hardly anything. She saw the babies, she saw the formula donations, she saw the arbitrary distribution without assessment and decided to sound off to Jenny of Chronicles of A Nursing Mom (see Jenny’s own post on Nanay Bayanihan here). Mommy Camille asked if LATCH can send counselors and facilitate donated breastmilk. Jenny contacted Doc Lei, who contacted Doc Mianne and they agreed to mobilize. Doc Lei and Doc Mianne also have an organization – Kalusugan Para Sa Mag-Ina, Inc. – and their expertise and knowledge was essential in putting up the facility at VAB. Along the way, there was a call for formula donations from the DSWD, which frustrated Doc Mianne and prompted Dr. Zeka Tatad-To call out for donations that initiated The Cold Chain Project. It is meant to facilitate the point-to-point transport of donated breastmilk to the frontline of the disaster-stricken areas and make breastmilk available to those who need it. The Cold Chain Project evolved into Bayanihan Para Sa Mag-Ina, the blanket organization that embraces both the Cold Chain and Nanay Bayanihan. Along with LATCH, the entire breastfeeding community moved, from the members of Breastfeeding Pinays, to other breastfeeding advocacy groups, to breastfeeding mothers and community health workers. A single mother’s concern became an entire community of mothers’ concern.

In the weeks that I’ve participated in the effort, I saw how ¬†Nanay Bayanihan truly was moving in the spirit of bayanihan. Both strangers and friends, mothers or not, came together and brought Nanay Bayanihan to life. I’m a little lost for words at the moment, but here’s a slice of my tale in pictures.

There were light and fun times, opportunities to interact with like-minded women.

With fellow volunteers at the Nanay Bayanihan tent. Doc Mianne (in red) giving us a few reminders when handling the mom and baby pairs who come into the tent.

There were times I wanted to cry.

This is baby Andrea, whose mom was rushed to the hospital for a heart complication. She’s only three weeks old. We took turns nursing her until the DSWD fetched her and her dad to be with her mom at the Heart Center. I pray she’s doing well.

There was frustration.

When the order was given to move out of Villamor and transfer to Aguinaldo, the entire operation was packed up and set up. We set up all day in Aguinaldo, resulting in our nicest tent yet. We were told three hours later to transfer back to Villamor. Because all our things were set up in Aguinaldo, we had to scrounge around VAB for any cartons, blankets and whatever we could find just to accommodate the babies coming in the midnight flights.

There was lots of fatigue. But there was also lots of joy.

This baby came in with her mom at approximately 3am. I wore her while her mother slept off her exhaustion from the trip. Babywearing works wonders!

And a little bit of showbiz too!

I couldn’t believe it when they announced over the PA system that Alicia Keys was at the grandstand! I sprinted when I heard her voice over the mic.

Nanay Bayanihan was overwhelmed with the amount of support received in the form of donations, volunteers, and coverage. In light of the many discussions and heated arguments about milk donations and distribution of milk in relief centers, I believe Nanay Bayanihan was able to make a mark and extend the awareness of why the Milk Code, UNICEF and the World Health Organization specify not allowing milk donations in times of crises and emergencies.

The operations have waned but the tent remains. Even after our country has weathered Yolanda, Nanay Bayanihan will still remain. Again, this group has no “agenda.” They are not being idealistic. It aims to protect all babies, breastfed or otherwise and aims to shatter all myths and misinformation about infant feeding and nutrition.

To learn how to help and to know more about the ideals of Bayanihan Para sa Mag-Ina, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bayanihanIFE

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Comments

  1. Camille Averyll Favorito says:

    Maraming maraming salamat po! :)

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