Midwifery in a Disaster Zone

21 01 2014

In December, following Typhoon Yolanda, one of our missionaries from Abundant asked permission to travel to Tacloban to help with relief efforts.

Here the first-hand account of an amazing experience Aisling had while in the Disaster Zone!

Aisling Lynch with fellow relief workers.

Aisling Lynch with fellow relief workers.

I went to Tacloban to help in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as ‘Yolanda’). The following experience is one that has stuck in my memory and I think it always will.

We arrived at the hospital with a young man from the community I was living in, he was severely malnourished as he had not been able to get food since the typhoon hit, that was almost 2 weeks ago. The hospital had a long line of people, about 300 I estimated, sitting outside the emergency room waiting patiently to be assessed.

Outside the hospital waiting to help survivors.

Outside the hospital waiting to help survivors.

The Korean medical team that were assessing our guy were trying to arrange to refer him onto a medical ship that was docked just outside the harbour of Tacloban City. While we were waiting for information on his transfer, there was suddenly commotion, a stretcher appeared out of nowhere was was been wheeled at a run by the orderly. The Korean medical team were blocking the entrance door and repeating “No, no, don’t bring her inside, we have no OB/GYN on our team”. It was pretty obvious there was a woman in labour outside so I identified myself as a midwife and offered to help if she was pushing and there was no time to transport her somewhere else.

Myself and the medical team ran outside and sure enough there was a tricy with a woman, her family and a screaming newborn tucked up inside. The baby was pink, crying and had great tone so we congratulated the family and tricy driver on a successful delivery and put the mother and baby on the stretcher to be brought inside for a closer look.

 Once inside I got to the business of assessing the woman for blood loss and seeing if the placenta had delivered. I’m not sure exactly how this happened, but I think I went into ‘autopilot’ mode and took control of the medical team. Because we were unsure of the woman’s blood loss I asked immediately for her to be put on an IV of dextrose or whatever they had available (understandably in a disaster zone supplies are limited), then I got ready to deliver what I thought to be the placenta that was visible. But the minute I touched it, I realised it did not feel like any placenta I had ever touched before. 


It was at that moment I realised the placenta was on the blanket so what I actually had my hands on was the woman’s uterus. There were still some membranes trailing so I twisted these out and then quickly checked the placenta was complete, it was. I remember looking to one of the medical team who was a surgeon and telling him the woman had a prolapsed uterus. He looked at me and asked what do we do with it. I admitted that I had never handled this kind of situation before but to the best of my knowledge we just need to put it back in. His answer was “well, go on then!”. 

 So with a deep breath and shaky hands I got down to the business of replacing this woman’s uterus back inside to its rightful place. It was surprisingly easy and when I was pretty sure it was back where it was meant to be I stood back and observed just to make sure it stayed put, it thankfully did. Baby at this stage had been looked over and wrapped up in a blanket, he was then brought over to his mum and started breastfeeding immediately. In the space of less than 5 minutes, everyone was stable and happy. 

Mom and baby doing fine

Mom and baby doing fine


It was the strangest feeling having people come over to say thanks. The entire medical team came over one-by-one to say thank-you to me. To be honest, it was a great feeling! This experience thought me so much; that a cool head in an intense situation is invaluable, that I can trust in my knowledge to guide me in medical emergencies and that good team-work can be achieved through clear communication, even if you have never before met the people you are working with.

Mother and baby got transferred to a nearby hospital that had OB/GYN on their team and from what I heard, both mother and baby were fine. All in all, a fantastic outcome for everyone involved!


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Canada

3 01 2014
Merry Christmas from the Macad Family

Merry Christmas from the Macad Family

The Macad family has taken three weeks away from Abundant Grace of God in Tabuk, Philippines and headed North to spend Christmas with Georgia’s family.

We have had a wonderful time here and have seen lots of family and a few friends. It is amazing how fast three weeks can fly by!

The boys enjoyed making their first snowman (Zion and Lucas’s first time in the snow!), drinking hot chocolate, and even pictures with Santa!

Georgia and Achao enjoyed spending time connecting again with family and friends – lots if them new friends for Achao.

I have to say that I am so blessed to have a staff that I have full confidence in to run the ministry in the Philippines while we are away for three weeks.

We will be sad to say good-bye to all of our loved ones in Canada next week but looking forward to getting back to our home and our clinic – to see all the growing bellies and the new babies born while we were away.

I will be doing a special post to celebrate my ‘ten year anniversary in the Philippines’ this month. Keep your eye out for it – I promise some pictures of really horrible hairstyles! 🙂

Far from our Home … but close to our Hearts.

13 11 2013
Typhoon Yolanda Aftermath

Typhoon Yolanda Aftermath

Typhoon Yolanda hit last week with a fury. The reports have just started coming out and the devastation is heartbreaking.

Here in Kalinga we had a rainy afternoon on the day the typhoon hit – nothing more.

I am so thankful that we are all okay here. That our house is still standing. Our loved ones safe and sound.

It is almost too much to bear when I think “what if we were the ones with our lives torn apart?” So, I try not to think about it.

But it is still there every morning on the television and radio and on Facebook when I open my computer. Families torn apart, missing loved ones, lives destroyed.

I don’t know what my role should be in this particular disaster. But I know that I should not ignore it.

So today I am dedicating this simple post on my simple blog to all of those families that are still reeling, still searching and still grieving. My heart is with you.

Well-Baby Update

10 10 2013

We have a had a great year training mothers in our “Well-Baby” program.  Cathee Mapes has been heading up our program since 2012 and is doing an amazing job!  Cathee knows just about everything there is to know about Primary Health Care, Nutrition, Backyard Gardening, Medical Emergencies, TB … ok a lot of things!  We have been blessed to have her work alongside us in bringing this very important training to the mothers in and around Tabuk.

Cathee Mapes

Cathee Mapes teaching at a seminar at the clinic.


Since starting this program at the beginning of 2012 we have graduated over 100 women in the “Well-Baby” Program. That means that we have trained over 100 mothers how to …

Make their own backyard gardens that can give them FAITH (Food Always In The Home)

Mothers learning how to make their own organic pesticides.

Mothers learning how to make their own organic pesticides.

Recognize and Treat Medical Emergencies

Provide adequate nutrition for their children

Monthly weighing of babies at the Well-Baby Seminar

Monthly weighing of babies at the Well-Baby Seminar

Recognize signs and symptoms of Tuberculosis and get treatment

Recognize signs and symptoms of Dengue and Malaria and get treatment

Discipline and care for their children in a Godly way



A mother with her baby boy.


In 2014 we hope to reach out even further with our Well-Baby program and train mothers in the mountains of Upper Tinglayan. This will mean hiking into remote villages as well as encountering a lot of traditional beliefs that may go against what we are teaching.  It is going to be an exciting year ahead!

The village of Bugnay in Upper Tinglayan.

The village of Bugnay in Upper Tinglayan.


Rest in Peace Sweet Baby Ashley

30 08 2013


We are very sad to say good-bye to Baby Ashley Manzano who has become a big part of our lives over these past four months.  Ashley went home to be with Jesus on Wednesday August 28 after a lifelong battle with repeated lung infections that were never diagnosed.

Ashley was born at our clinic on March 18, 2012 and was transported to the hospital immediately for breathing difficulties. Ashley’s mother Julies never came back for her follow-up check-ups at the clinic and we didn’t see her again until over a year later.

This April Julies and Ashley came to attend a Well-Baby seminar at our clinic.  Ashley was more than a year old then and still only weighed 10 pounds. She also seemed to be suffering from severe pneumonia.  Julies told us that she had been back and forth to various doctors to try to get help her for her daughter but was continually told that it was her own fault that Ashley was sick because  she was malnourished.  Julies told us that she tried to go to the community health center to ask if they could help and the midwife just looked at Ashley and looked back at Julies with condemnation and said “It’s severe malnutrition!” As a last resort Julies brought Ashely to us to see if we could do anything to help.

For the last four months Ashley was a big part of my life.  I tried to get a concrete diagnosis for her condition but she kept having these terrible bouts of pneumonia that we had to deal with. Julies tried to get Ashley’s weight up by giving her high protein milk. Ashley’s dad found them a safer place to live that gave them some protection from the weather. Ashley was hospitalized four times in the last four months, each time getting weaker. When we took Ashley for her third admission to the hospital I spoke quite forcibly and told the doctor that it was NOT MALNUTRITION!  I then heard one doctor whisper to another that it was probably Cystic Fibrosis. We never did have a chance to take her to Manila for further testing – I don’t know if she would have made it back even if we had.

Last Wednesday morning Ashley was at home with her mom. Julies was getting ready to take her to the hospital again and as she was getting dressed she heard Ashley call out “Mama”.  When she turned around Ashley had stopped breathing. She rushed her to the hospital where she could not be resuscitated. My social worker Kate and I arrived a few minutes later to hold Julies and cry with her. I still cry every time I think of Julies holding her precious Ashley in her arms, calling out to her to ‘wake up’.

Sometimes I get so sad and discouraged with the lack of medical care available here in the Philippines. I don’t know if it is because of the lack of diagnostic tools available, but the blame for childhood illnesses is usually shifted to the parents; they are not doing enough or they are doing something wrong.  With this blame comes enough guilt and grieving to break your heart.

Please pray for Julies, her husband and her three other children. Please pray that they will find peace in knowing that Ashley’s suffering is over and she is waiting to see them again. Please pray that they will find freedom from guilt and condemnation in the arms of Jesus.

Our very own Graduate!

20 04 2013

Here is a wonderful story about how God puts people together in miraculous ways!

Melody and her dad at her Graduation.

Melody and her dad at her Graduation.

Two years ago my staff midwife B-lyn asked if there were any sponsors willing to help her cousin finish midwifery school. Her cousin Melody,  is the oldest child of six and her family just didn’t have the funds to put her through school. She had had a sponsor that was helping her  but when she switched her course from Education to Midwifery her sponsor decided that he didn’t want to continue funding her education.

I told B-lyn that I didn’t know of anyone at that time but that we should pray and ask God to work something out.

We prayed.

God answered.

A few weeks after we prayed, Deanne Hancock, a fellow 1992 MEI grad (that was my highschool) who I probably haven’t spoken to in person since 1992, emailed me and asked if there was anyone I knew of that she could support through Midwifery school. She was wanting to give to something that would have a lasting effect.  Yes, I definitely knew of someone!

So for the last two years Deanne has sponsored Melody through Midwifery school  while we have given Melody hands-on training at the clinic.

” I’m thrilled that such a relatively small contribution can have the potential to have a positive effect on Melody and multiply to everyone she helps as well.”  – Deanne

Melody graduated this March 2013 and is now volunteering with us at AGGMC until she writes her board exam and gets her license.

God is so cool!

Our Midwife Had a Baby!

15 02 2013


Me, B-lyn and Ethan at their home in Lacnog.

Me, B-lyn and Ethan at their home in Lacnog.

Evelyn Pullis Dungoc, my longtime friend and fellow midwife at Abundant gave birth to her own sweet baby on January 24.

Ethan Michael Dungoc was born at Abundant clinic and I was so blessed to be his midwife! What an amazing experience to help my fellow midwife give birth. Evelyn (B-lyn) has been working with me since I very first started in 2006 and we have been friends since my first trip to Kalinga in 2004. Wow, that is almost 10 years!

Congratulations to B-lyn and her wonderful husband Ramon on your gorgeous son!



31 12 2012

Achao, Georgia, Emmaus and Lucas are thrilled to announce the arrival of a new little Macad boy. Zion Simpson Macad was born at home on November 29th at 6:34am after just one hour of labor. Delivered by our amazing midwives Crystal, Marivic and Jacki. Also attending the birth, all the way from Oklahoma was Georgia’s mom!  Zion weighed in at exactly 8 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes  (surprise) and he is an angel!


Thanksgiving from John Lester

13 11 2012

Last week Baby John Lester along with his whole family blessed the Abundant staff with a Thanksgiving meal. It was their way to thank us and God for the successful glaucoma operation.

Arce Family – Lots of boys!! The last two were born at Abundant.

As you can see in the pictures, the road to healing will be a long one with many follow-up check-ups in Manila and possibly another procedure. As compared to the last picture I posted of John Lester his eye looks much bigger – but that was because from the time that was taken until he could actually have the procedure his eye grew so much that he couldn’t even close his eyelid around it anymore.

Ana Pullis who has been accompanying Anita and John Lester to all of their trips to Manila! She is a Godsend!

The operation improved his quality of life so much that he actually smiles and laughs now!! Before he would only sleep and cry because of the pain. The operation also saved his other eye which would have lost it’s sight as well if the operation hadn’t been done. I keep praying for a complete healing for John Lester but for now he is doing really well and enjoying life.

The Trials of Baby John Lester

12 10 2012

Baby John Lester and his mother Anita before their first trip to Manila.

John Lester is the third child and third boy born into the Arce Family. He was delivered at our clinic in the middle of February 2012 and when he was born we noticed that his left eye was quite swollen. We referred him to a pediatrician and they diagnosed him with an infection and gave some medicine. We didn’t see him again until a few months later when his mother attended one of our “Well-Baby” seminars. I couldn’t believe it when I saw him! His eyeball was so enlarged and the socket was so swollen.  His mother said that he only cries and sleeps and seems to be in so much pain. We asked the mother if she had been to a doctor again and she told us that she had, but they were referred to Manila to see a specialist and they couldn’t afford to go. My heart just about broke to see this sweet little boy in so much pain.

John Lester getting some relief while sleeping.


We contacted one of our sponsors, Samaritan’s Purse Canada to see if there was some way they could assist us in getting baby John Lester medical help. They said yes! In July, with the help of SP Canada we took John Lester and his mother to Manila for an initial check-up and diagnosis. It took a whole week but God divinely intervened and set up a meeting with one of the top ophthalmologists in the country. When the doctor saw John Lester and learned of his family’s financial condition, his heart was also moved. He diagnosed him with congenital glaucoma and said that he needed immediate surgery in order to save his eye. He agreed to waive his professional fee and set up a sponsorship with his own foundation (Opthalmological Foundation of the Philippines) for John Lester to receive a reduced rate for all procedures.

Since August we have been trying to get John Lester healthy enough to undergo surgery – he was suffering from pneumonia. Finally this last week, baby John Lester had his glaucoma surgery and everything went well. He and his mother are still in Manila with one of our team undergoing follow-ups until the doctor clears him to come home to Tabuk.

John Lester’s family is so thankful for the help given by SP Canada. Without their sponsorship John Lester would still be in excruciating pain and would have eventually lost use of both eyes.

Please pray with us that John Lester will continue to heal and that his other eye won’t be affected by the glaucoma.

(I will put up pictures of John Lester post operation when they arrive home from Manila next week)