A Wave of Need: A Midwife’s Story

One midwife impacts women and children in her community in the wake of the Philippines’ Super Typhoon Haiyan

The 2013 storm marked one of the deadliest typhoons to strike the Visayas island group in the central Philippines, claiming over 6,300 lives. At landfall, Haiyan (Yolanda) had maximum sustained winds of 195 mph (314 km/h), making it one of the most, if not the most, powerful tropical cyclones to strike land.1 The physical destruction and economic impact pushed an estimated 2.3 million people into poverty.2

Yolanda was life-changing for all of us. Despite the difficult situation and uncertainties we faced during that time, every baby born gave us a gleam of hope.”

-Nerissa, Mercy in Action

Tanauan Beach bordering the Leyte Gulf of the Pacific Ocean

Nerissa had no idea how much her life would change after the storm hit. In response to the disaster, a non-profit organization called Mercy in Action stepped in to help. Nerissa joined the team and worked tirelessly to provide healthcare, including delivering babies in tents, in the aftermath of the storm which had left many hospitals devastated. With the help of Mercy in Action, Nerissa’s clinic was eventually rebuilt to provide free maternity care to all those in need.

Nerissa, Speaking to a group of pregnant women (or buntis) in her Tanauan community

Ten years later, Nerissa is known as an advocate for pregnant women in her community. Her passion and dedication have greatly improved maternal health experiences for women in Tanauan. The birthing center has provided women with a safe and positive environment during pregnancy and childbirth, including women like Edna, who experienced a lot of trauma during the birth of her first child.

Edna, Mom, Province of Leyte, The Philippines

Edna delivered her child alone on a desk in the municipal center as Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) raged throughout Leyte. She had to flee the center immediately after giving birth with only an umbrella protecting her newborn from the harsh weather. But with this pregnancy she will be supported by Nerissa and her compassionate team, laboring at Mercy in Action, surrounded by midwives, family, and nourishing food.

Nerissa received her first Vitamin Angels prenatal vitamins and minerals grant to support the nutritional needs of her patients in 2014. Since then, Vitamin Angels has proudly partnered with Mercy in Action, delivering 15,441 bottles of MMS to pregnant women in the Philippines.


  1. 1. https://www.britannica.com/event/Super-Typhoon-Haiyan
  2. 2. https://www.preventionweb.net/publication/philippines-lessons-learned-typhoon-yolanda-assessment-post