I made my
annual visit to Camiguin in mid-February and left shortly
As always, I enjoyed going around the island and seeing many
of the children whom we assist, especially those attending
the two government run rehab centers and the two public
elementary SPED classes.
It was nice to see the progress these children are
A number of parents also brought their children to
our “office”, which is the veranda of the apartment we rent.
This is where Lea lives and where I stay during my
families find their way to us via referrals from midwives or
nurses at the rural health units and the hospital or just by
word of mouth from other families who were helped in the
past. It is not
unusual when Lea and I are out going around the island with
our manager, Jesse driving, that someone comes up and gives
us an update about their child whom we helped years ago.
I also made a trip to Cagayan de Oro, to see some
long time friends.
While having dinner with one of them she asked me if
we had any children who might benefit from a wheelchair.
I told her I would have to discuss this with Lea, and
get back to her.
When Lea and
I looked over the list of children receiving physical
therapy and not yet walking, we thought Irish May might be a
candidate for a wheelchair.
As mentioned in our last newsletter, she is five
years old and had just recently started sitting tailor
fashion while supporting herself with her hands. She also
has undeveloped eyes and probably only sees light and
shadow. A wheelchair specially fitted to her size would help
support her upper body and free her hands so she could use
them. And her family lives in a flat area so they could take
her out around her barrio to socialize with other children
and adults. I
got back to my friend in Cagayan and we sent the needed
information. Irish May was approved and a short time later
her parents brought her to Cagayan for the fitting and they
came home the next day with the wheelchair. The chair also
has a removable tray, so she can hold and manipulate toys
and start learning to feed herself. Judging by the pictures,
she seems to be quite happy in the chair with her arms
stretched out wide. (You can see pictures on our website.)
The wheelchair was provided by a Rotary club in Australia
and fitted by technicians at Capital University in Cagayan
urging Irish May’s parents to continue to have her play and
move around on the floor and practice her sitting alone and
standing with support. She should not sit in the wheelchair
all of the time.
thought seven year old Mico, also mentioned in our last
newsletter, might also benefit from a wheelchair.
His mother has just informed Lea that she would no
longer be able to bring him to the rehab center for his PT.
She was due to deliver a new baby and anyway, he was
becoming very heavy for her to carry to the nearest public
This family also lives in a flat area, so Mico could get out
of the house and be brought around the neighborhood and even
to the elementary school. We have sent the paper work for
Mico and hope he will be approved.
One problem is that he won’t travel anywhere without
his mother and with the new baby his mother cannot bring him
to Cagayan. We
are hoping that one of the technicians could bring the
wheelchair and do the fitting in Camiguin.
When we visited the
rehab center in Sagay, on the other side of the island, I
brought a hand-me-down musical toy from my grandchildren for
the children to share while they are having their PT
minute the first child hit the piano-like keyboard, and they
heard the musical sound, almost every child in the rooms
looked up and many of them tried to make their way over to
the toy. Each
of them got a turn and two of them shared the keys at the
same time. This simple toy was quite a hit.
children with cleft lips and palates, born in 2017 were
brought to us in the first few months of 2018.
So the final tally for 2017 was eight newborns.
This is up quite a bit from the usual three to four
per year. And
we already have three new cases born in 2018.
One of the
2018 newborns has had a pretty tough start on life.
Lea and I found out about him when we went to the
Mambajao hospital to check to see if there were any preemies
as we want to help the families of premature babies get to
Cagayan de Oro for eye check-ups to be sure they aren’t
developing retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), if they cannot
afford the transportation to the city.
They did indeed have a preemie.
Mark Gabriel was born at 35 weeks gestational age via
emergency C-section because the mother had severe eclampsia.
His weight was 1.6
kilos (3 ˝ pounds). The very next day his single mother was
transferred by ambulance to Cagayan de Oro in kidney
needed kidney dialysis, and her church is helping her with
the hospital bills.
Meanwhile, Mark was born with a bilateral
partial cleft of the lip and a cleft of the soft palate (the
Since Mom was not there, one of the doctor’s who was
already nursing her own baby began nursing Mark. He was able
to suckle because only the back part of the palate was open.
One of the nurses was pumping her breast milk for him as
well. He was discharged after his weight reached 2.5 Kilos
(5 ˝ pounds) and we assisted a relative to bring him to
Cagayan to have his eyes checked.
His Grandmother stayed behind to continue to look
after Mark’s three older siblings, aged nine, seven and
five. He has been back again for another check up and, so
far, his eyes are doing ok.
His mother is doing better and we hope they can soon
Among the deaf students whom we are assisting
in Mambajao, 18 year old Renante will be promoted to Grade
6. Gian Carlo will continue in Nursery level.
Both boys are mainstreammed into the regular classes
for Math. They are hard workers. And in Alangilan, Jovanne
who is deaf will be in Grade 2 in the SPED classroom. He
received an award at the end of the school year: Most
Outstanding Student. Hera Jane, also deaf will be promoted
to Grade 1. And
John Paul, who has a developmental delay, will be promoted
to Grade 2, still in the SPED classroom.
He also received an award for Most Outstanding
Student for the year.
And we expect another eight year old boy who is deaf
to start when classes resume in June, 2018.