A Roadside Birth in the Philippines: Lynsey Addario’s Remarkable Photos

Maternal Health;Typhoon Hayien; save the children
Lynsey Addario
Jan. 11, 2014: Analyn Pesado, 18, gives birth on the side of the road en route to the nearest clinic in Tolosa, outside of Tacloban.

Correction appended, Feb. 26.

On the side of a road outside the central-Philippine city of Tacloban, next to a paddy field, 18-year-old Ryan Bacate is in a panic. It’s not just the heavy rain or the strong wind, which bring back the horror of Haiyan, the supertyphoon that flattened this part of the country in November, leaving more than 6,200 dead and another 4 million displaced. Bacate’s pregnant partner Analyn Pesado, also 18, is lying on the ground and about to give birth— 3 miles from the nearest clinic in Tolosa municipality.

Bacate and Pesado were on his motorbike en route to the clinic after she had gone into labor. A man, also on a motorbike, happened by and rushed to Tolosa to get midwife Norina Malate. When she arrived, the baby was crowning. Malate encouraged Pesado to push. Once the baby emerged, Malate disinfected her snippers with alcohol and cut the umbilical cord. Onlookers helped carry Pesado and her baby, a boy, onto a pickup truck that took them to the Tolosa clinic.

Photographer Lynsey Addario was on assignment for Save the Children, which is helping to rebuild health-care infrastructure in Haiyan-hit areas, and captured the remarkable Jan. 11 birth. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Addario. “It was such a community effort. When you see a baby born like that, and it is fine, you’ve got to think: It’s kind of miraculous.”

Tacloban, ground zero when Haiyan struck, and its ravaged environs could do with more miracles. Residents now have a steady supply of food and water, tons of debris have been cleared away and, in Tacloban, a few restaurants and bars have even reopened. But homes and jobs are scarce. Hundreds of thousands of people are still in temporary housing, about a million coconut farmers have had their crops devastated, and 30,000 fishing boats have been destroyed or damaged.

Few buildings have electricity—it may take another year to get everyone back on the grid. Prices for necessities have almost doubled, and many schools have not reopened. The better educated are seeking opportunity elsewhere.

Overshadowing everything is the grief for lost loved ones, never abating for many, no matter how much time passes. That’s why Ryan Jr., named after his father, means so much not only to his parents but also to the countless who have been hurt by Haiyan. Pleado recalls her fear for her unborn child. “After the typhoon, I was worried about where I would give birth,” she says. “I never thought someone would come and help. I thought it would be just me and my husband.”

But, with the kindness of strangers, Pesado and Bacate prevailed. For one shining moment, hope triumphed over despair, and life over death.

Correction: The original version of this story misspelled the names of Bacate’s pregnant partner and the midwife who assisted her. They are Analyn Pesado and Norina Malate, not Analyn Pleado and Norena Malate.


Lynsey Addario is a photographer based in London and a frequent contributor to TIME.

Per Liljas is a reporter for TIME based in Hong Kong.


Related Topics: , , , ,

Latest Posts

2014.  Gaza.  Palestine.  Schoolchildren head to class at the Sobhi Abu Karsh School in the Shujai'iya neighborhood. Operation Protective Edge lasted from 8 July 2014 – 26 August 2014, killing 2,189 Palestinians of which 1,486 are believed to be civilians. 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed.  It's estimated that 4,564 rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinian militants.

Inside Gaza with Photographer Peter van Agtmael

What photographer Peter van Agtmael encountered in Gaza changed the way he worked.

Read More
WASTELAND PERMITTED USE: This image may be downloaded or is otherwise provided at no charge for one-time use for coverage or promotion of National Geographic magazine dated December 2014 and exclusively in conjunction thereof.  No copying, distribution or archiving permitted.  Sublicensing, sale or resale is prohibited.     REQUIRED CREDIT AND CAPTION: All image uses must bear the copyright notice and be properly credited to the relevant photographer, as shown in this metadata, and must be accompanied by a caption, which makes reference to NGM.  Any uses in which the image appears without proper copyright notice, photographer credit and a caption referencing NGM are subject to paid licensing.        Mandatory usage requirements: (Please note: you may select 5 branded images for online use and 3 images for print/unbranded)1. Include mandatory photo credit with each image2. Show the December cover of National Geographic somewhere in the post (credit: National Geographic) unless using only one image3. Provide a prominent link to: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/12/superfund/voosen-textat the top of your piece, ahead of the photos 4. Mention that the images are from "the December issue of National Geographic magazine” GOWANUS CANALNew York, New YorkPollutants: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, lead, copperYear listed: 2010Carved from a tidal estuary 160 years ago, the Gowanus Canal is Brooklyn’s industrial artery—and a deeply polluted waterway. Even so, it’s frequented by herons, seagulls, crabs, and canoeists. Defying local fears of economic stigma, the EPA listed the canal as a Superfund site in 2010. It hopes to start dredging contaminated mud in 2016.

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 24, 2014

Mideast Israel Palestinians

The Best Pictures of the Week: Nov. 14 – Nov. 21

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,241 other followers