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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Guest Post: Baby Leaf's Sendong Experience

Today's guest post is written by Trisha Lim, the mom behind Baby Leaf Diapers.  Aside from being a cloth diapering mom, Trisha is also a breastfeeding mom.  Trisha is based in Cagayan de Oro City.  At the height of Sendong, despite having her store flooded, Trisha stepped up and donated her breastmilk.

Trisha approached me to host a giveaway for Baby Leaf.  However, I decided to ask her to share her Sendong experience via guest post.  As you know, a very important issue that I am currently focused on is the consolidated House bill which seeks to amend the Milk Code and allow donations of formula milk during disasters or emergency.  I want to use Trisha's post to highlight that it is possible to obtain breastmilk donations during emergencies and disasters.

Meanwhile, come back on Monday to join the Baby Leaf Diapers giveaway.
Sendong came on the night of Dec. 16 to our place at around 10pm. I will never forget that day because it was the first night of the much anticipated Simbang gabi.

I remember beaming with pride because I finally finished wrapping most of our Christmas presents. I placed everything in our office/store since I knew I will be delivering all of them to my close friends and relatives the next day. We ate out that night and went home because the mall's electric power became erratic.

It was raining as we were heading home. My husband sent me home to be with the kids. Our office was just next block so he said he would just check on the office.

An hour after, I called my husband again and he said he couldn't come home because water just kept getting higher. Since our house was on the 3rd floor, I had no idea that the water went up to nearly 5 ft already. It was an agonizing night. My kids cried as the power went off. I was left alone with the kids, the gate couldn't be shut and water came rushing in. Everything was dark. Everyone was worried and called us until my two phones got weak. That whole night, I just looked out the window and vividly recall that I was just praying and hoping the water to go down. My husband came home muddy at around 4 am the following day.

I was glad he was safe. That morning, I couldn't believe the damage brought by Sendong. My little store was wiped out. All my hard work instantly lost. I wanted to cry. I couldn't believe this happened to Cagayan de Oro. We never experienced such tragedy before as typhoons usually just passed by this city. Everyone was in dire need of help. So many families homeless, children hungry and lives lost.
I knew we were lucky to be all safe and alive...
Baby Leaf after Sendong

I knew I had to do something. Everybody who were okay wanted to, we just didn't know where to start. Thanks to the Dr. Jessa Sareno, she called and asked for everyone in Manila to help babies in need of breastmilk. Babies who lost their mothers were in dire need of milk and even potable water. Breastmilk was the only best solution. I had a freezer full of frozen breastmilk which I saved for my daughter, yet I knew they needed the milk more than my baby. It was very touching how a lot of moms even from Manila donated their milk to CDO. We knew we did something right in our own little way. It sure is something I will always feel happy about... It wasn't the happiest Christmas for us, but it was one Christmas where we realized that there is so much more to life than just presents and good food, Christmas is all about sharing and giving back.

counseling moms
photo by Dr. Jessa Sareno
As Trisha shared, a major problem during disasters and emergencies is the source of potable water.  The consolidated House Bill proposing the amendment of the Milk Code PERMITS donation of infant formula during disasters and emergencies as an exception to the "no donation" general rule.  It seems that the authors failed to think about the source of potable water - will the milk companies also be donating water to mix the formula with? To clean the bottles and nipples with?  Plus, this will be a huge marketing opportunity for these milk companies.
Dr. Jessamine Sareno, a prime mover during the relief missions during Sendong, shares her pictures of the breastmilk drive, showing that there is no need for a free distribution of donated formula milk.   Clearly, with this donation provision in place, benefits (and profits) are actually for the milk companies and the proposed amendment to the Milk Code will not really benefit the Filipino breastfeeding mothers.


Trisha Lim said...

Hi Jenny! Thanks for this! I hope it will inspire a lot of people to breastfeed. Special thanks to Maricel of MEDELA MOMS who gace me Dr. Jessa's number :)

Jenny said...

thank you Trisha for sharing your experience!

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