We often see all that is hard and sad in life and know that change needs to happen, but the task looms too large for just one person--so we never try. Yet, there is power in doing all we can to change lives for the better…
Saturday I had a really memorable experience of seeing how the power of ONE can change so many lives. There are so many great people in the world and many of them work tirelessly to share their talents and skills to help others. I want to share how the power of ONE person creates a blessing for many. And eventually the power of ONE becomes the power of MANY.
My day started early to visit an island in the Pasig River in the center of Manila city proper that is the home to Hosipicio de San Jose. I am not quite sure how to label Hospicio...it is an orphanage, but not only that. It is a geriatric home, but not only that…I will settle on it is a REFUGE—a refuge for babies, orphans, sick, and the elderly. Hospicio is very familiar to me, we discuss it regularly in our USEC board meetings. I know names, stories, and have seen photos as it is one of the many places we donate goods and resources; however, this is the first time I have actually GONE to Hospicio. This is where my stories of the POWER OF ONE start.
SISTER CORRIE: Hospicio is a refuge ran primarily by Catholic Nuns. Sister Corrie is the Head Nun there. She keeps the island area with all its buildings and guests clean, tidy and fed. She is a short woman with warm motherly features and a kind voice. Again, we have discussed Sister Corrie and her goodness several times, but it was nice to meet her. She is the backbone of Hospicio. I realized, as she was showing me a large bulletin board with photos of children that had been adopted in the last two years, that she really makes a difference in so many people’s lives. The hungry, the weak, the elderly, the sick and the children, Sister Corrie truly is a Disciple of Christ. She kindly turned our group over to another Sister to give us the tour and quietly went back to her work. She is just one woman, but she changes the very lives of so many people on her little island home.
|Sister Corrie Welcoming us to Hospicio|
DYANE and BARBARA: Now, as a caveat I must say that working with USEC I have been blessed to work with some of the most talented, selfless, caring people who give all they have to a good cause. I could write a blog post on each one of them, but today I am going to focus on only a few. Dyane came to USEC earlier in the year, because Barbara (another great USEC board member) introduced her to all that USEC is doing, and has jumped in FULL FORCE! She is dynamite and full of endless energy. She has visited orphanages, schools, hospitals and other charities we help. Something I am unable to do because of work. Her excitement to serve has spread to others who are also now serving. Dyane is recounts stories with love in her eyes and enthusiasm in her voice about talking with the elderly or sitting in the street and reading to the homeless children. Barbara and Dyane had visited Hospicio and one of the young women, Angie, that lives in the Rendu wing—where the residents with special needs live—gave Barbara a painting. Instead of keeping the painting, Barbara and Dyane came up with a plan to have USEC and Global Printing (ran by Dyane’s Husband) make cards to sell. Hospicio can now sell the cards to raise much needed funds for food, clothing and other basic needs like medicine.
|This a photo of Angie with some of the cards. The LDS missionaries are with her, Barbara and Dyane weren't there for the photo|
ANGIE: This is a perfect place to tell you how special Angie is. I did not ask her, but I would guess she is in her 20s or early 30s. Angie greets everyone with a shy, but infectious smile. As you talk with her she will joke and while laughing lean into you for a hug. The hug is full of love even though Angie has no arms. She was born with no arms and has lived at Hospicio her whole life. At the age of 11 she discovered her talent to paint using her feet. She loves to show off her art and is really excited to talk about the cards they are selling now to help out at Hospicio.
SHERRI and DILLON: Now I will tell you why I was at Hospicio—we were there to measure the residents of the Rendu wing for wheelchairs. Many of the Rendu patients have Cerbral Palsy or other physical disabilities and need wheelchairs. Sadly, they are only using hand-me-down wheelchairs that are adult size. The nurses (who are, most often ,volunteering their time) use shoe laces and material strips to tie the children into the ill-sized chairs so they do not fall. It is heart breaking to see. Sherri is another USEC member. She is the liaison for Hospicio. Meaning she spends her time out there a few times a week seeing what needs they have and how USEC can help fulfill those needs. She and her son Dillon spends several hours out there together. It was Sherri and Dillon’s willingness to serve and request to have wheelchairs donated that started the chain of events for us to be there.
Sherri presented to the board the need for wheelchairs. Barbara, as a medical practitioner, offered to help fit the patients for the correct wheelchairs. We just needed to find some chairs. We put ‘feelers’ out to all our contacts and found a few American companies that donate wheelchairs but they said they only work the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the LDS Church. Sherri reported that to us on the board and I said, “Great! I am LDS…let’s see what we can do.” Sherri emailed the LDS executive headquarters in the Philippines. It just happened that one of people at the Church Headquarters emailed is in mine and Lady Hiva’s congregation. One day at Church she said, “Do you know Sherri?” And from there we planned the day!
As I said earlier, Hospicio is on an island in the middle of the River. To get there, you go to the apex of the bridge and turn right. The buildings are old but well cared for. Sherri was unable to come, but Dillon came with me. Everywhere we went people asked Dillon where his mother was. I could feel how much the two of them were loved on the island.
We met a team of LDS senior couple missionaries and Church leaders. The senior couples, both from the States, one set over the Church’s Humanitarian aid in the Philippines and the other set working in the Church Public Relations department. It was fun to meet them and see their selflessness to leave the comfort of retirement and being with family to serve in the Philippines on a mission. We were all in awe of how big Hospicio was and how many people are housed there.
We stopped by and saw all the toddler orphans who were playing in the large rooms off of their shared bedroom. They were so cute and friendly. I wished it was not so hard to adopt from the Philippines, I would have loved to take a few of them home.
Next we visited the nursery wing and saw all the new born babies that will be raised at Hospicio. We stopped by and talked with the elderly women and men that live there and finally we made it to Rendu.
All the residents were out enjoying the warm morning air. I stopped and said hello to them. The first boy I greeted was Tiang (or at least that is what it sounded like). Tiang is blind and while I said hello I touched his arm. He rubbed both of my arms and patted my face to see who I was. I must have passed the test because he then stood up and led me to the swing so I would swing with him. He would not let go the whole time.
It was fun to spend time with all the Rendu residents. All of them loved to hear your voice greeting them and would smile so large with touch. They loved to have their photos taken. Their little bodies would shake with excitement.
Dillon was a hit, a few of the guys there came running full speed to say hello to Dillon when they saw him. One of them, Juboy is deaf and in a wheelchair, but full of energy and excitement. He communicates with his sign language and followed Dillon wherever he went.
|Dillon and Juboy|
It was a great morning. A group from the University of Santo Thomas came to measure all the residents for their new chairs while we greeted and played with all the rest of the group. It will be a happy day when all the children get to have their new chairs.
That is my story of how each person, the missionaries, the staff from UST, Sherri, Sister Corrie, Dyane and Barbara and Dillon all do what they can as ONE person but together they make a world of difference in so many other people’s lives.