#WomenHumanitarians save lives

UNICEF Philippines Child Protection Officer Rohannie Baraguir-Datumanong reflects on her career in celebration of World Humanitarian Week 2019

Rohannie Baraguir-Datumanong
UNICEF Philippines Child Protection Officer Rohannie Baraguir-Datumanong, wearing a UNICEF vest, stands in front of the United Nations emblem
UNICEF Philippines/2019/Marge Francia

19 August 2019

I have been working with UNICEF in the area of child protection for around eight years. I began my career as a humanitarian after the 2008 conflict in Mindanao. I then got involved in many emergencies such as Typhoon Sendong/Washi and Typhoon Pablo/Bopha and the Marawi Siege.

My job as a Child Protection Officer is to make sure that children are protected from any forms of abuse, exploitation and violence, to feel safe in their environment, that they are able to play and express what they feel, whether it be in conflict or disaster scenarios.

I work with UNICEF’s partners in government, civil society and faith-based organizations and non-state actors to unite and make sure that the best interests of children are protected. I work to help facilitate tracing and reunification of children with their families, ensure that children recover from the psychological effects of conflict or disasters, and that services are there to safeguard their rights to protection.

As a woman and a mother, I feel affected when I see children separated from their families.

Sometimes, when I see children caught in the crossfire or take part in the hostilities themselves, I think of how they have been robbed of their childhood.

I think of them as my own children, and wish the best for them.

I feel happy and rewarded when I come across people who I used to train as our volunteers running the child-friendly spaces. The young people I used to teach are now humanitarians in their own right. They now work with different NGOs and people’s organizations. It fills my heart with so much happiness when I meet them in the field. This is the reward of many sleepless nights working and being away from my own family. 

UNICEF Philippines National Goodwill Ambassador Gary Valenciano, wearing a blue UNICEF t-shirt, talks to a boy with a UNICEF staff member beside the child
UNICEF Philippines/2011/Kat Palasi
UNICEF Philippines Child Protection Officer Rohannie Baraguir-Datumanong comforts Junjie with UNICEF Philippines National Goodwill Ambassador Gary Valenciano during his trip to Typhoon Sendong-affected areas in 2011.

My most rewarding experience was during Typhoon Sendong in 2011 when I was able to facilitate the family tracing and reunification of a boy named Junjie. Junjie was able to survive the flood but he was separated from his family. Through the help of partners, we were able to take care of him while he was unaccompanied, then reunite him with his parents when we were eventually able to find them. This is just one of the many highlights of my career as a woman humanitarian.

As I and many women celebrate World Humanitarian Week this August, I look to my fellow women humanitarians who demonstrate care and courage to save people’s lives. I have learned that in this line of work, guidelines and policies can be learned, but the passion to serve is what drives all of us to believe in ourselves and do our best.