Job loss during COVID-19
Millions lost their jobs to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government reported that the unemployment rate hit a record high of 17.6% in April 2020 during the health crisis.
This impacted vulnerable sectors, especially those in informal sectors such as jeepney drivers, market vendors, street sweepers, and garbage collectors.
Early on, UNICEF and Relief International already understood livelihood recovery will only come once the majority of the population is vaccinated.
Working closely with the Department of Health, UNICEF and Relief International are supporting local government units including the cities of Parañaque and Navotas in accelerating COVID-19 vaccination.
Using various communication channels like mobile loudspeaker systems (bandillo), mass media, and social media, UNICEF and Relief International helped make information about COVID-19 vaccination accessible especially among the most at-risk and vulnerable populations and addressed hesitancy issues.
To address operational and other issues related to access to vaccination, UNICEF and Relief International engaged 220 local officials and 44 local leaders and mobilized 35 local organizations.
A total of 359 health workers and frontliners were trained on how to communicate COVID-19 effectively and address hesitancy issues and a total of 4,913 vaccine-eligible individuals have been engaged for vaccination in Parañaque as of writing.
The support provided through the partnership of UNICEF and Relief International has been instrumental in reaching vulnerable and marginalized groups, and increasing vaccination coverage in the country.
A single mother making a living through the pandemic
Working as a garbage collector, Jackie has been in constant fear of getting and spreading COVID-19 to the two young children she raises on her own.
While conducting health education sessions in communities, the NCR team of Relief International met Jackielou Cose Estemada, a single mother and garbage collector from Barangay BF Homes, Parañaque City.
“I search different places just to find trash I can sell,” says Jackielou, sharing her daily routine to the team. “I start my work at 6 am and end by 8 am to go back home and attend to my children. In a week, I earn P300-400 ($5-8 USD) which I use to purchase milk, rice, and other basic necessities.”
Tending to an 8-year-old and a 1-year-old by herself, there seems to be no end in sight for Jackielou’s responsibilities as a single mother.
“I still attend to my first born and help her with online learning. I also walk to her school to so I can save on transportation costs whenever I need to pick up her modules,” adds Jackielou.
When the pandemic happened, Jackielou’s family was not spared. While she did not get infected with the virus, her hardships worsened. As she couldn’t afford to stop working to make ends meet, she had to live in constant fear of getting sick and bringing the virus to into her home.
It is an understatement to say that life is a struggle for her, and it certainly didn’t improve when the pandemic came.
Being a garbage collector, Jackielou is aware that she is always at risk of getting infected and spreading COVID-19 to her two children. For Jackielou, getting sick is simply not an option because this means not having food on the table.
“My income is not enough. I can’t afford to get sick. If I get sick, what will happen to my children?” she laments.
Getting vaccinated for her children
For her situation, getting fully vaccinated should be an easy choice. But Jackielou initially had her misgivings about the vaccine’s safety due to the side effects.
During her first dose, she experienced mild headache and nausea. Afraid that she might get eventually get sick, she became nervous and hesitant to proceed with her second dose.
But when UNICEF and Relief International got the chance to talk to her during one of their health education sessions, it helped allay her fears and uncertainties. She learned that side effects are normal reactions and a sign that vaccines are working, allowing the immune system to respond and build immunity against COVID-19.
Equipped with the right information, Jackielou finally decided to complete her primary doses. Overcoming her hesitancy, she got her second dose that day.
“I got vaccinated not just for myself, but for my children,” says Jackielou after getting her second dose. Ultimately, what helped her decide to get the second jab is her love for her family.
Now vaccinated and with a better sense of security, Jackielou continues to work hard for her children. She shares her dream for them: to finish school.
Like many Filipinos, Jackielou believes that good education is the ticket to a better life. “I will strive to keep my first-born in school,” she promises.
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