Cancer treatment for 20 children and 30 women

by Asia America Initiative
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Mom Lissette and Brielle
Mom Lissette and Brielle

In the Philippines, 4-year old Brielle needs a liver transplant surgery to save her life from a rare illness. The surgery must be conducted as soon as possible in a Taiwan hospital specializing in children's diseases. Her doctors say, without this surgery in early 2017, it is unlikely that Brielle can survive.  AAI, through GlobalGiving donors, has helped raised enough to help pay the surgery costs. For this, we send our deepest gratitude.  Now what remains of our effort is to raise $950 for post-surgical medicines and care. [See GlobalGiving mini-project #26329 "Support a New year With Life for baby Brielle."

Her liver donor is her mother, Lissette, who has postponed her clinical training as a young graduate from medical school, in order to give full care and love to her daughter.  On December 18, 2016, , Lissette has written a message of hope and appreciation to all of our Global Giving donors:

 "Good day, Noble Donors!  We are Joseph and Lissette the parents of Brielle. To those who have donated to our cause, we are forever grateful for your heartwarming love, time and generosity.

Brielle is currently diagnosed with Alagille Syndrome, this is a progressive disease affecting the liver, and it also affects other organ systems such as the heart, bones, ears, kidneys, and eyes. The only definite treatment for her progressive illness is a liver transplant which should be done as soon as possible to prevent further complications of the illness and for her to have a big chance to still live a normal life.

 "We plan to have the liver transplant done in Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan. We are appealing for your compassion to help our baby Brielle get her liver transplant, a life saving gift for her this Christmas season.  Asia America Initiative has extended their generosity to save our Little Sunshine, Brielle, above and beyond what could be expected.  

 Thank you, GlobalGiving Donors,  so much for untiringly supporting our family. Have a blessed merry Christmas and a very happy New Year! May God bless you and your families for your kindness!"

 

 

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Distributing AAI toys on pediatric cancer ward
Distributing AAI toys on pediatric cancer ward

Christmas eve of 2016 was a wondrous time for more than 100 children undergoing cancer treatment at House of Hope in Davao, Philippines and their families. Many come from surrounding provinces where indigent farm laborers have been victimized by cancer-causing chemicals sprayed in the agriculture fields. Other children were born with leukemia and lymphoma. The small but overcrowded center, attached to a government hospital in Davao, is the only treatment facility for more than 2,000 such children between infancy and teenage years.  While medicines are provided by the Davao government, other necessities must be provided by private organizations and volunteers, who range from elementary school students to senior citizens.  Overseas humanitarian organizations such as Asia America Initiative and One World Institute help to cover the cost of essential materials such as ward decorations, story- and coloring books, games and toys.  Most of the children have never owned a toy due to their family's poverty.  "It is a true blessing to be able to assist these children," says Pidot Villocino, the volunteer coordinator for the AAI-OWI assistance programs at House of Hope. "Their smiles are truly genuine."

This Christmas season a series of parties and toy distributions at House of Hope were created by Asia America Initiative, partners in Davao and the One World Institute. AAI is a "peacebuilding and educational" organization by official definition. Some people might say, "It is not our job."  But we cannot ignore the needs of children with life-threatening diseases. Although we are not medical professionals, we understand that laughter and joy not only help children undergoing chemotherapy with courage and a stuffed animal to be their friend when they are in pain and alone. We have witnessed that sometimes laughter and joy are as important as medicine to generate the mental and physical healing of cancer that medical doctors cannot explain.  We believe that miracles can be sparked by kindness and love.  

Thanks to our Global Giving donors, we continue monthly nutrition and supplemental medicines for children with rare diseases in Manila through the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders all year round.  And this week, in addition to the Christmas toys to assist more than 300 kids at House of Hope, we ask that you not forget to assist us and please donate through our main Cancer Treatment Project #8496 on Global Giving's website. Your support especially helps during the last week of 2016 so that we are "powered-up" to continue and expand our work with these great kids during 2017!! 

Christmas Eve party at House of Hope
Christmas Eve party at House of Hope
Volunteers of all ages at House of Hope
Volunteers of all ages at House of Hope
under chemo therapy. comfort from stuffed toy
under chemo therapy. comfort from stuffed toy
baby under care at House of Hope
baby under care at House of Hope
boy undergoing chemo with Mom and stuffed toy
boy undergoing chemo with Mom and stuffed toy

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Pre-teen patient overcoming cancer, House of Hope
Pre-teen patient overcoming cancer, House of Hope

 

In 2014, 49 of our first 50 patients in Manila became cancer free. We are now support holistic treatment filled with hope and encouragement to assist more than 3,000 children suffering from various forms of cancer at the House of Hope Center in Davao, Philippines.  In addition, we are providing nutritional aid and supplemental medical support to an additional 50 children with life threatening genetic disorders at the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders in Manila.  In almost all cases, the children come from impoverished communities where their families earn less than $5 per day.  Many of these children light up with joy to receive toys and coloring books and crayons for the first time in their lives.  

During 2016, Asia America Initiative and our partners from One World Institute have expanded our efforts to provide care for children undergoing treatment.   Sadly, there are always some losses of children suffering from terminal diseases.  However, we celebrate each gift of life. We have witnessed heart-warming healing experiences that rekindle our faith and fighting spirits.

At the Society for Orphan Disorders in Manila, 11 year old Pauline is reaching the age where most children with her type of disease are expected perish.  We first met this vivacious little girl, when she was 6 years old in a hospital bed at Philippine General Hospital.  Her eyes were silent with fright and her stomach swollen to many times its normal size due to the genetic disorder from which she suffered. Today, thanks to expert medical treatment by genetic specialists at the Philippine National Institutes of Health, she is no different in energy and liveliness than any other children her age.  Pauline’s  most joyful victory is to have been taken out of the special class in her school for children with disabilities.  She is now achieving good grades in ordinary classroom environments.  

The facilities at House of Hope are intensely overcrowded.  Many families must sleep on the floor or on the ground in the surrounding outdoor areas. We have addressed the need for additional lodging with “kubo huts” made of bamboo walls and thatch roofs.  These huts cost an average of only $300 US dollars and serve as the hotel rooms shared by families of the cancer children at the House of Hope. A local craftsman repairs any damages and only charges a small fee for his labor.

The success at House of Hope is a community act of love. None of the agencies and groups involved are especially wealthy.  However, teamwork and group effort has made a positive impact.   The City of Davao pays for the medicines, the local cancer center at the adjacent hospital facility provides free treatment.   Pidot Villocino of OWI, who also monitors activities for AAI, says, “First time visitors to House of Hope cannot hold back their tears.  300 kids cycle through treatment here each week. The isolation ward in the Children’s Wing is full.  The operating rooms are always full.  Thank God for our teen volunteers who drop in to bring food paid for by their own allowances from their parents.  They also unwrap little cooking sets for patients’ families and coloring books, crayons, toy trucks and stuffed cuddly animals provided by AAI and their USA donors.  It is our hope that the stuffed animals can, somehow, ease the pain these kids are going through….  Every time I tag along on these visits, I think, ‘Who am I to complain?’ 

Full house of love at House of Hope
Full house of love at House of Hope
Fun reading Big Books with AAI and OWI volunteers
Fun reading Big Books with AAI and OWI volunteers
AAI and OWI gifts under Christmas tree
AAI and OWI gifts under Christmas tree
Mom with children at House of Hope
Mom with children at House of Hope
Families stay in bamboo huts outside House of Hope
Families stay in bamboo huts outside House of Hope
AAI education, story books, medical supply gifts
AAI education, story books, medical supply gifts

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Jedi Knight cancer patient with Mom, House of Hope
Jedi Knight cancer patient with Mom, House of Hope

First time visitors to House of Hope in the garden city of Davao  in the southern Philippines have difficulty holding back their tears. Located in the Mindanao region of some 24 million people -- Christians, Muslims and mountain tribal groups --it is the only such medical facility that can provide healing care to children afflicted with various types of cancer.  Each week the overcrowded facility alternates treatment groups of 300 child patients and their families.  The current patient load undergoing chemotherapy and other forms of treatment is over 4,000 patients.  It is a healing center built on great love and near super-human dedication of a handful of qualified medical specialists. But conditions can be devastating, with patients and their families sleeping on the outside grounds and the floor of general activity rooms and the actual wards where children are hooked up to intravenous tubes stuffed in 100 degree [F] heat covered with exhausted bodies. 

High school and college volunteers try to bring food so parents who have spent all available funds to travel to Davao have at least a little something to eat.  When our colleagues, Dr. Yolanda Stern and Pidot Villocino at One World Institute told Asia America Initiative of this situation, it felt like a mule’s kick to our gut.  Even though our budget is stretched beyond thin due to nutritional care we are providing to the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders in Manila and raising funds to help “Baby Brielle” get a life- saving liver transplant surgery in Taiwan.  All the while we are trying to stop ISIS recruitment and terror  in southern Mindanao by improving education and livelihood.  But we could not say, “No.”  We have used professional skills learned in Global Giving's Spring and Summer webinars to prioritize, budget and intensify our fundraising programs via social media. 

As a result, we have already provided comforting stuffed toy animals for over 200 cancer patients…  we are now raising funds for one toy for each of the 4,000 patients, all of whom live in dire poverty.  Toys cost around $2 or 90 pesos per piece in local markets. In addition, an incredible coalition of small-town churches who partner with AAI in the Pennsylvania-Maryland and West Virginia area of the United States is donating large boxes of toys that will cost around $2,300 to ship from Virginia to Davao. Our goal is to assure each child has a comforting toy to assist in their healing before Christmas season begins. 

Speaking from the Children’s Cancer and Blood Disease Unit at the hospital next door to House of Hope, Pidot Villocino of OWI, who also monitors activities for AAI, says, “First time visitors to House of Hope cannot hold back their tears.  300 kids cycle through treatment here each week. The isolation ward in the Children’s Wing is full.  The operating rooms are always full.  Thank God for our teen volunteers who drop in to bring food paid for by their own allowances from their parents.  They also unwrap little cooking sets for patients’ families and coloring books, crayons, toy trucks and stuffed cuddly animals provided by AAI and their USA donors.”

“It is our hope that the stuffed animals can, somehow, ease the pain these kids are going through….  Every time I tag along on these visits, I think, ‘Who am I to complain?’  Thank you Asia America Initiative, your donors and all those people who send their prayers.”

toys and arts for cancer patients House of Hope
toys and arts for cancer patients House of Hope
volunteer visiting child patients, House of Hope
volunteer visiting child patients, House of Hope
Child in chemotherapy resting with toys
Child in chemotherapy resting with toys
Happiness is a purple stuffed monkey
Happiness is a purple stuffed monkey
crowded cancer treatment ward at House of Hope
crowded cancer treatment ward at House of Hope
Help us revitalize decor at House of Hope
Help us revitalize decor at House of Hope
Teen volunteers at House of Hope, Davao
Teen volunteers at House of Hope, Davao

Links:

Baby Brielle
Baby Brielle

There is a wise proverb stated in many cultures that reminds us,"Save One Person and You Save the World." That attitude can especially be applied to the partnership between Asia America Initiative, Global Giving and the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders [PSOD] in Manila. What began in 2008 as a small spontaneous act of kindness to save the lives of 20 children and 30 impoverished women from cancer has grown into a model for supporting the medical treament of hundreds of children born with rare genetic illnesses. This heartfelt partnership includes medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies, parent and student volunteers and a wonderful over-worked  PSOD coordination staff who helped to shape a sucessful campaign to create a first-ever "Persons with Disability Act" authored by the Philippine Congress.  It was signed into law by the Executive Branch in March 2016.  This law may assist thousands of adults and children with disabilities to have access to medicines previously beyond their families' budgets.  AAI, through our Global Giving donors maintains essential support for nutritional supplements, donated clinical supplies and the cost of required medical tests.

"We thank AAI and your donors for your continuous support," says Janet Fransisco a PSOD coodinator. "The law has been signed, but there is still a lot of work to do before the rules are fully implemented.  We still are raising funds for the supportive care for the children, such as the milk, vitamins and essential medical devices such as ventilators, suction machines, wheelchairs and diagnostic monitoring of the children."

Each child we assist to overcome a life threatening disease is a symbol of hope to their communities in a country where 36 percent of the people struggle below the poverty line and an equal number barely earn a living wage. One of our newest children is 3 year old "Baby Brielle" who was born with a rare disease called "Alagille Syndrome" which can damage the heart,kidney or liver.  Brielle desperately needs a liver transplant within the next three months in order to survive.  She has found a matching donor --  her mother -- who will share part of her own liver to save her daughter.  As always, the cost of the surgery and pre and post operative care is far more than her family can afford.  AAI will start a micro-project to save"Baby Brielle" by reaching out to our Global Giving donors. We are in a partnership with other charitable organizations to cover the costs and other essential needs to complete this process.  Dr. Tom Stern, MD in San Francisco says, "Alagille Syndrome is one of the most difficult conditions a child can have. Many charitable medical centers do not have the precious resources [due to being overwhelmed with many children who have urgent needs]."

AAI believes that making every possible effort to save this one child's life can "help save the world." We invite you to contribute whatever you can afford to our "Baby Brielle" micro-project campaign.  You have our sincere gratitude for your payers and your contributions.

Persons with Disabilities Act celebrated
Persons with Disabilities Act celebrated
PSOD staff briefing government health officials
PSOD staff briefing government health officials
child of psod care with her mother
child of psod care with her mother

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Organization Information

Asia America Initiative

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.asiaamerica.org/​
Project Leader:
Albert Santoli
Washington, D.C United States
$31,012 raised of $35,000 goal
 
514 donations
$3,988 to go
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