Meet A Midwife Who Is Devoted To Helping Expectant Moms In The Philippines

Vicki, Founder and Executive Director of Mercy In Action, shares how her organization served mothers affected by the April 2019 earthquake in the Philippines and how a grant from GlobalGiving and Facebook empowered them to recover swiftly.

Vicki Penwell

Founder and Executive Director, Mercy in Action

Who She Is:

Vicki is a licensed midwife who, in addition to founding Mercy In Action, has traveled to dozens of countries on five continents to teach midwifery and maternal/child health care. Vicki earned her bachelor's and master’s of science in midwifery from the National College of Midwifery and earned a master’s in intercultural studies from Alliance Graduate School in the Philippines.

On April 22, 2019, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck the Zambales and Pampanga Provinces in the Philippines, causing at least 16 fatalities and displacing more than 200 families. One nonprofit organization, Mercy In Action, is devoted to one affected group in particular—expecting moms.

Mercy In Action’s Founder Vicki Penwell tells you about her organization’s determination to give pregnant mothers the care they need, even in the throes of a disaster. Through the generosity of Facebook donors all over the world, GlobalGiving was able to designate needed funds to responding organizations like Mercy In Action.

Q: How have the funds you received from Facebook + GlobalGiving made a difference for your community?

A. The funds we have received from Facebook + GlobalGiving have made an enormous difference in our community. We were able to get roofs back on our clinic fast after this last storm, and when a big typhoon took out parts of several islands awhile back, we were able to rebuild two full birth centers with help from GlobalGiving.

Q: What do you wish more people knew about how your community was impacted by this storm?

A: Typhoons and natural disasters are common here in the Philippines, but that does not mean they are not terrifying, destructive, and often lethal. Just because they happen commonly does not mean we can ignore them or not take them seriously.

Q: What are the greatest unmet, long-term needs in your community?

A. Our greatest need is affordable maternity care for all women in our community, during all seasons of the year. And access to that care, even during storms.

Q: What about your local community’s response to this storm makes you most proud?

A. Soon after the earthquake, we sought out the Aeta tribal families who had been displaced by the earthquake. We found them living in tents in a big, open field. With the help and blessing of their tribal leaders, our midwives provided food and gave medical check-ups to all the pregnant women, new mothers, and the small children under five, in keeping with best practices following a disaster. Our team said many of the survivors were crying and very distressed, and appreciated the loving care, kindness, and prayers as much as the food and medical care. But what makes me most proud is that our community is always out helping each other in any storm.

Our staff midwives are heroic at times; since they don’t swim, they are terrified when waters come up over their heads, but as soon as they can, they are back in the clinic receiving patients. Once they even delivered a baby on a top bunk bed while standing in two feet of floodwaters!

And they have gone out to rescue stranded women in labor with a birth kit and solar lights! And when a storm took out my home and the homes of others on our Mercy In Action team, our team was still willing to go help disaster victims that had lost even more and were hurt worse than we were.

Mercy In Action was empowered to serve survivors of this disaster by partnering with GlobalGiving and the Facebook crisis donate button. When you donate money through the crisis donate button on Facebook’s website, GlobalGiving ensures those funds reach vetted nonprofit partners like Mercy In Action.

Learn more about GlobalGiving’s Disaster Recovery Network and get connected to vetted nonprofits like Mercy In Action.


Featured Photo: Birth Center Saves MotherBaby Lives in Philippines by Mercy In Action, Vineyard, INC

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