“Mother, why are we different from other kids?” asks 6-year old John Rey to his mother, Janisa. John Rey and his two older brothers Christian and Gary Jr., have not been able to walk and run like other children because of a bone condition that started when each of them turned six years old.
Janisa looks at John Rey and finds it difficult to answer his question. Even the doctors that they consulted could not determine the reason why her sons’ bones in their lower bodies were shrinking. All the doctors could recommend was to conduct more medical examinations to determine the cause of the boys’ conditions and how to treat it.
The eldest, Gary Jr. who is now 13 years old, has trouble sitting down and usually spends days lying on the sleeping mat. The father, Gary Sr., earns just enough to get by their daily needs as an on-call carpenter. Janisa stays at home and takes care of the children. As much as they want to have their sons treated, they have limited financial capabilities to do so.
To make matters worse, their community in Balabag, Kidapawan was affected by the series of earthquakes that struck Mindanao during the last quarter of 2019. The disaster affected more than 300,000 people, almost half of them displaced, including Gary Sr. and Janisa’s family.
Despite their struggles, the Lopez family continues to move forward especially after our Earthquake Response Protection Team, together with the Integrated Provincial Health Office – IPHO and the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), referred and assisted the Lopez brothers to Kidapawan City Public Hospital and other private hospitals in the area for more extensive check-ups and medical examinations. John Rey, Christian, and Gary Jr. each received wheelchairs courtesy of the IPHO, and the CSWD provided financial assistance for their family. Action Against Hunger continues to monitor the condition of the three children.
Prior to the referral, the Lopezes also received humanitarian support forms of multi-purpose cash transfer, hygiene and shelter kits. Inside their evacuation tent, Janisa watches her two youngest sons play, the eldest brother lies in his back beside them. The boys may not be able to use their legs like other children, but Janisa is hopeful that at least her sons will now be able to walk and run in their own special way with the help of their new wheelchairs.
Life-saving Humanitarian Assistance to People Affected by the Mindanao Earthquake is funded by the European Union, and implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines, CARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.
Written by Joayra Gem Balagtas