Sittie was due to give birth in July, but things did not go as planned.
Clashes between government forces and a local armed group erupted in Marawi on May 23, forcing Sittie and her family to leave home.
Aboard a tricycle, Sittie, her husband, and their two children fled Marawi. Sittie’s baby bump took quite some space in the tiny tricycle. (WATCH: Walked for 6 hours just to escape)
They headed to an evacuation center in a neighboring town, which houses over a hundred other displaced families.
Sittie and her family slept on a banig (mat), with only bags and boxes separating their allotted space from other families.
“We were as packed as a can of sardines,” Sittie said in Filipino.
“It was crowded, hot, and noisy,” she added. At night, Sittie would go outside to get some fresh air and to wash her hands. This helps her cool off, she explained.
Three days later, the 26-year-old mom gave birth to her third baby.
“My baby was very small at birth,” Sittie said. “I didn’t expect that I would give birth this early.”
“My baby is premature, maybe I got stressed and scared of the gunshots, fire, and bombings.”
Raising a baby in an evacuation center
More than three months after the Marawi crisis broke out, thousands are still living in evacuation centers.
Sittie’s baby sleeps in a makeshift crib, covered with a mosquito net. The young mother spends most of her time fanning her children to sleep.
Hers is not the only infant in the evacuation center, several other babies are also growing up without a permanent home. (WATCH: Where is home?)
This shouldn’t be the norm.
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