Monday, May 27, 2013
A birthday like no other
By Maria Katrina Lopez Yarza
Published: May 27, 2013
"When you enjoy what you have, you get happiness. When you share what you have, you multiply happiness.”
Since 2007, I have been celebrating my birth month by holding “MAY Birthday Project,” a gift-giving affair at the Philippine General Hospital where I share my blessings with people I call friends.
This year though, my mom had a minor accident two weeks before the gift-giving, that lead to a compressed fracture in her spine. It was really hard for her to move around, in fact there was a time that she could not move at all. I worried about how she will undertake the preparations for this event. Fortunately, she recovered faster, thanks to our answered prayers. My friend, Ate Jen, volunteered to prepare the ecobags by having the logo printed on it and delivering it to our house. Sir Deegee, my sister’s high school teacher, offered the help of 2Hour Pickup and Delivery Inc. to get the donations anywhere within Metro Manila at no cost. These two tasks took a lot of my mom’s time and effort in the previous years, so their help really meant a lot to us.
Two months ago, when I started campaigning for MAY Birthday Project 2013, the first to respond despite his busy schedule was Sir Jean Henri, the CEO and president of PJ Lhuillier Inc. Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos was busy with his campaign but he still offered to assist and support us. My friend Adie of Asia Institute of Computer Studies (AICS) delivered boxes of donations. Goldilocks Bakeshop sent a couple of caramel popcorn and cupcakes that put added excitement on the children’s faces. Universal Robina Corporation was generous enough to give boxes of goodies like Quake bars and Cream-O. Timmy’s Oven and PAVZEL sent their homemade pastries and chocolates for the patients. Mommy Gilda Altez, president of World Letter Insurance Solution Inc. and my Happiest Pinoy co-finalist, prepared a couple of mini bayongs to give out. Greencross not only gave alcohol but also boxes of soaps. Isshin Dream Publishing held a book outreach and handed it during the event. We were able to get support from different companies and individuals who didn’t just respond to our help, but also genuinely expressed their sincerity and willingness to participate in the project. These people indeed are cheerful givers.
A dream came true for me when Fr. Dante Valero, SDB offered to celebrate the Holy Mass during the event. In the previous years, my mom and I would often say, “Sana may Mass?” I cannot hear the words of the priest whenever I attended a Mass. I am usually just a mere observer but I understand its complete sequences. But that is already enough for me to join in the prayers; it’s about God and me anyway. So during the Mass officiated by Fr. Dante, we prayed for the success of the event, for the patients, as well as for the strength of one another.
Upon entering each ward, I gave a short introduction and shared with them my mantra “while there’s life, there is definitely hope.” I can really testify to that. For instance, more than a hundred people came to volunteer for the project last year. Until now, I am still amazed at how this little project that started seven years ago becomes bigger and better every year.
Having a lot of volunteers means a lot of interactions with the patients and more effort, time and love were shared. We learned their stories, gave them encouragement, prayed for them and most importantly, we were able to put a smile on their faces. Adding more fun were the magicians of The Story Circle who entertained not only the patients but their caretakers and volunteers as well.
The event was so tiring especially because of the very hot weather. It was really exhausting, but with all the smiles and happiness that had been passed around, I must say that it was all worth it!
Since May is also Neurofibromatosis (NF) Awareness Month, I asked some of my NF friends to join us. We handed flyers with basic information about our condition as our way of showing everyone that being sick and looking different from others are not a hindrance for us to share and care. NF is not contagious anyway.
There were a number of people who weren’t able to participate this year but amazingly there were a lot of new volunteers with us. Here are some of their thoughts.
“Nakakalungkot, masakit sa dibdib makakita ng mga batang may sakit. Pero kapag inabutan mo sila ng tulong lalo na ‘yung mga toys, kitang kita mo ‘yung ngiti at saya sa mga mga mata nila,” shares Ate Cecile.
Meanwhile, Ate Cres says, “As a Mom, I can feel their pain. After saying a little prayer, I got out and calmed myself because I was there to make them happy and not spread negative vibes.”
Jenyh, on the other hand, considers the event a humbling and heartwarming experience after seeing the conditions of the kids and talking to their parents. “It made us wish we could do more to help,” she adds.
Thank you so much for everyone who supported MAY Birthday Project 2013! I will keep doing this for as long as I am alive, breathing, and celebrating my birthday.
Today is my mom’s birthday. Please include her in your prayers that she may continue to get through, despite her lupus. All these wouldn’t be possible without her.
Safara Chloee Gabayan was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia and needs to undergo a liver transplant in Taiwan that costs about R4 to 5 million. Her family is doing everything they can to raise the needed funds. You may get in touch with her mother Maryval at 09079899385 / 09233432580 and direct your donations via BDO Account # 2360459992 under account name Joey Gabayan.
Let me share with you this poem I got from the internet. No one knows who the real author is but it is too good not too share.
“Hope is such a marvelous thing. It bends, it twists, it sometimes hides, but rarely does it break. It sustains us when nothing else can. It gives us reason to continue and the courage to move ahead, whenever we tell ourselves that we’d rather give in. Hope puts a smile on our faces when the heart cannot manage. Hope puts our feet on the path when our eyes cannot see it. Hope moves us to act when our souls are confused of the direction. Hope is a wonderful thing, something to be cherished and nurtured, and something that will refresh us in return. And it can be found in each of us, and it can bring light into the darkest of places. NEVER LOSE HOPE!”