by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza
June 6, 2011
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
It is really a blessing to be able to share because that means you have something to give.
We really made it to a point to schedule my open-head surgery on an earlier date so that after the one month recuperation, I would have fully recovered and be able to celebrate with my annual birthday gift-giving at Philippine General Hospital (PGH) once again.
In 2007, while travelling by car with my family, I was thinking aloud, “I want to celebrate my birthday with the kids in the hospital.” Ideas kept coming out of my mind, but I told myself, “But we are not rich, how can we make we fund the event?”
Then I came up with a solution, “I will share my blessings, and these blessings are my friends.”
Sharing doesn’t really have price tags and the event does not need to be grand. What matters most is to share our hearts and make those patients happy. I want to make them smile even with the hardships they are in. And so this is the start of MAY Birthday Project!
I made a wish list and sent it to all my friends, family and everyone I know. These are toiletries which I believe are necessities in hospitalization, based on my experience as a patient. I also asked for toys for the kids to have something to play with so they would not get bored. I remember lying on the hospital bed for two months; I was so bored and easily irritated. I was already a grown up then, what more for these kids?
Everyone that I emailed and sent a message to responded, they even spread the word to the people they know. It may be in the form of a small shopping bag or in boxes and when it was combined together, we were able to repack more than a hundred pieces of loots. We were also able to buy food and drinks for those patients. We were able to reach out to three charity wards (pedia, neurosurgery and spine surgery) and also pedia ICU.
We’ve been doing this for five years now and this year, more people responded. We were able to gather more items.
May 21, 2011, on a hot Saturday afternoon, the lobby of PGH was full of people who are all excited to share themselves and ready to make a lot of faces smile.
With the goodies and food, we all headed to our first stop, Ward 9 (Department of Pediatrics). I introduced myself and gave some words of encouragement. I told them that despite being sick, I am continuously moving forward. I felt that it’s much easier to talk to them. And I can empathically say that I truly understand what they are going through, having been a patient as well.
Having said to them, the purpose of this event was to share my blessings; blessings that are not the material things, but the actual persons who were with me that day and people who supported this cause.
Since my speech wasn’t that clear, Tita Angie, our “human megaphone,’’ translated everything that I said.
Everyone went around the room to distribute gifts to the patients. The room was filled with smiling faces both from the giver and receiver, including their guardians, nurses and doctors. Adding to the fun were the two clowns who went around with us and performed a magic show afterwards. We did the same thing to Ward 11 (Department of Pediatrics as well) and Ward 6 (Department of Surgery). Since patients in the Pedia ICU need a lot more caution, not everyone were able to get in, but that is fine because we are not there on a fieldtrip anyway.
All in all, it is a tiring yet a fun-filled day. I may not be able to hear the people who wished me a “happy birthday” and said their “thank you” while going around, but I was able to see and feel how happy they were.
Doc Jon and his colleagues read my previous column about the gift-giving; helped, shared and joined us. Although he has been doing charity works for years now, this has been a memorable and fun event for him. Let me quote what he shared to me: “Sometimes we complain of being tired if the weather is too hot, but these patients can’t complain about their sickness.”
Annie, who I only knew from the event, joined us with her two other best friends, she said that not only that they bonded together but were also able to help and realized how blessed they are for having a normal healthy body.
One of my life-long friends, Kathreen, a pioneer of MAY Birthday Project, enjoyed the whole event; from the repacking, the gift-giving and interacting with the patients.
What made me even happier were the text messages I received after the event. A couple of patients and their guardians sent me a message not to ask for help, which I often get before, but to express their gratitude. It feels great to know that you are the reason for someone’s happiness.
“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11)
May God bless you so that you can be a blessing as well. Thank you so much for everyone who supported MAY Birthday Project 2011.
And for the 1st time in 5 years, kasali ang aking ama sa picturan..