'Miracle' Babies Born After Typhoon Haiyan Bring Hope, But How Will They Survive?

11/20/2013 01:14 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

Little Jolie wriggles around in his sleep, stretching and yawning and rubbing his face with his small hands, which are barely bigger than a soft-drink bottle cap.

His mother wipes away tears as she watches over him, still overwhelmed by the fact they're both alive. She says he's her miracle.

Jolie is just four days old, and he entered the world less than a week after Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines.

Jolie was born in the same room his then heavily pregnant mother, father and four siblings took shelter in during the mega storm.

philippines typhoon babies

Locals estimate that 90 percent of homes on the island of Manapao, just off the north coast of Panay, were completely destroyed, with the remaining 10 percent suffering some damage.
Not a single building on the small fishing island escaped the wrath of the biggest typhoon to hit the region in decades.

The local school lost most of its roof and the windows were smashed in. Now they are boarded up with corrugated iron, and the school is being used by about a dozen families for emergency shelter.

Abigail and John Ylanan had a two-bedroom bamboo home, which overlooked the spectacular inland sea on the edge of the Western Visayas.

Now it's a pile of rubble they use to lay fish to dry. In fact most of their home was washed out to sea by the huge storm surge that engulfed the entire coast of the island.

"When the water flooded into our home we fled up the hill to my mother-in-law's house," Abigail said. "My children were screaming and I had to try to calm them down. I was really stressed. I thought maybe I would give birth during the storm and I was scared for my baby."

Instead, Jolie held on another week and was born with only the aid of a midwife in a battered concrete house on a desecrated island.

He is yet to be seen by a doctor or receive any medical care, but Abigail said that he is healthy. Judging by his movements, he has made an active start to life.

"When I saw him for the first time I was overcome with happiness," she said. "He was crying when he came out and so was I. He is a miracle baby."

However, Abigail's life with Jolie has been made more difficult because she hasn't been able to breastfeed. Without encouragement and skilled support on how to start breastfeeding, Abigail may feel the need to rely on infant formula, which will increase Jolie's risk of not receiving enough of the right kind of nutrients he needs to be healthy and survive.

It's a cruel burden for people who have lost almost everything.

Now, like thousands of families across the region, her husband's fishing boat has been destroyed, losing their source of income and livelihood.

"My husband used to go fishing in the evenings and come back in the morning, catching crabs, prawns and milkfish," she said. "He always managed to catch just enough, but now we must rely on food rations brought in by helicopter."

Across the Municipality of Pontevedra about 80 percent of homes were damaged or destroyed, with Manapao the worst affected community.

The island's isolation makes the recovery process so much harder.

"I need help, we all do," Abigail said. "We have no relatives off the island so we have nowhere to go. I am scared for my son and my family. We need clothing, food, livelihood and shelter. We need everything."

To help children like Jolie, you can make a donation through Save the Children here. A contribution of $9 will provide a blanket, $30 a tarpaulin, and $60 a newborn kit. To learn more about Save the Children, click here.

Typhoon Haiyan Aftermath (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES)