Paul and his mother with his new wheelchair
The Art of Hope and Healing program for cancer victims was created in 2008 by Asia America Initiative and the US-based National Cancer Coalition in Manila, Philippines. In partnership with public hospitals, our goal is to extend our peace building in communities plagued by insufferable poverty and armed conflict between people of various religions and cultural groups. We act as models of unity and compassion by our inter-faith teams serving the poorest of the poor. We began the Art of Hope program with a target of 30 women with breast cancer and 20 children with various cancers including leukemia and lymphoma. But since becoming involved with Global Giving our services have grown -- thanks in large part to Global Giving donors -- to serve over 100 additional children with blood disorders, such as hemophilia and rare genetic illnesses such as Pompe Disease. Cancer treatment medicines from pharmaceutical companies have been more and more difficult for all NGO's to obtain and highly expensive to procure. However, we have found other important ways to help heal our beneficiary women and children. Our message is: EVERY HUMAN LIFE MATTERS. More than 100 women and children have received the gift of life.
11 year old Paul* [first name only to protect privacy of a minor] suffers from the bleeding illness hemophilia. He cannot walk but he is an honor student and a local champion of the game of chess. His family of six live in a one room shack in an overcrowded neighborhood in Rosario, Cavite just outside of Manila, the swarming capitol of the Philippines. Everyday his father, a humble construction laborer, must bicycle and carry Paul one kilometer to and from school. For the family, their greatest wish was a wheel chair for Paul. That would be a small miracle, far beyond their family budget.
Just before Christmas 2012 their wish came true when AAI nurse Mariole Sumile and program assistant brought Paul a handcrafted all-terrain wheel chair provided by the One World Institute of California. It was a total surprise for his family and all of their neighbors.
The joy that Paul and his family felt upon receiving the wheel chair was beyond words. With the help of the wheel chair, Paul can now do small things like visit friends and travel to school each day without asking assistance. Paul is now one step closer in achieving his dreams of eventually becoming a graphic artist.
With tears in his eyes, Paul sent a message on video to children around the world who also face physical challenges due to illness: "You should not lose hope because of illness, because for me hemophilia is not a hindrance. Instead it’s just a challenge to be stronger in my life. We should not let other kids tease people like us because we are also normal. We might have differences in our physical appearance, but we are also the same as people everywhere." [See the "Art of Hope and Healing" video attached to this written report].
Paul outside his family's humble one-room shack
Paul and his parents
Paul and his family with AAI team in their home
Paul with AAI staff member Bernadette Fenandez