Last week Charity, our Director, as well as Minet, our Senior Social Worker, and Eddy went down as our Assessment Team to Tacloban.

The objective of the trip was to find out what was going on “on the ground”, and have a better idea of the specifics of what Gentle Hands’ role will be in amidst the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

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Ronnie was referred to us from a local government hospital. Abandoned. We knew why. Children with visible differences are often left. It is just too much to deal with for a young mother who probably has a multitude of equally heavy responsibilities.

We sleuthed and were able to find more of this little one’s history. It’s always questionable to know more. Sometimes better to not. Bottom line is he has suffered more than any little one should have suffered. He has been rejected enough.

So now, as our mandate is, we will love him and allow him to heal. At the same time, we will do all we can to give him the best opportunities and chances at having a permanent family. He is a fighter, to be sure. He has recovered from his malnutrition and is so responsive to his caregivers.

He is beautiful… and we have found a surgeon who will fix both his lip and palet in one operation.

It is not free but in order for us to have the best treatment and use a hospital that is clean and will respect our child’s privacy and rights, we have chosen to try to raise the funds.

The surgery will cost almost $5000 and as always if more money is raised, it will go to expenses like milk, diapers, toiletries, and rice.

You can give the following ways:

Through Online Giving in Canada, the USA, Australia and Worldwide; through monthly automatic withdrawal/debit giving; or through cheque or money orders.

Please check out the links above – ONE TIME GIVING or MONTHLY GIVING – and you can find the best way you can give to the work of Gentle Hands.

For love of the Poor,

If you remember my story of Elmer, the young man who came to us dying of Tuberculosis, this is my final tribute to him.

Death brings many questions and few answers. I remember holding his face in my hands in almost desperation. Jesus loves you, I said. Elmer, just call to him. Tell him to take you, to forgive you, to bring him to you. Elmer, (I would try to make his eyes stay open), Jesus is waiting for you. He will hold you.

The chance of giving someone hope in their last hours, the chance that a lost soul will find peace after a life of pain, is why I would take another dying one again.

Elmer flew to Jesus March 20, 2006.

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall…so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!

  Chris Rice

His face long, his eyes spoke clearly of the hardships he had faced. There were lines in his brow that only suffering can bring. His skin was dark, stained by hours of labor in the sun. He looked so very tired. He sat quietly and handed two papers to me. Read more

Picture 45

Little Jonalyn was born premature at 8 months we are told,  December 8, 2005. Now, at 3 months old, she is coming to us after 9 days in a hospital… a concerned citizen desperate to see the baby get help. Read more

He was arrested in the evening. A local official lured him out of his shack with promise of work. In excitement, he dropped what he was doing, changed and ran out of the house. As they walked up the dark hill towards the dimly lit street, he was grabbed by two officers dressed in civilian clothes. Thrown up against the fence and handcuffed, he was arrested.

The following three days have been a nightmare. Thrown in the overcrowded cell that B was all too familiar with, he was told he had to give names and addresses of certain criminals. With trembling lips, he stammered he didn’t know. Cursing and screaming, the officers gave him a choice of 3 charges: gambling, armed robbery, or concealing a weapon. With tears in his eyes, he chose the lesser crime, concealing a weapon.

B’s mother called the next morning early. She was frantic, over and over saying her son was innocent. Arriving in the early afternoon at the jail, I approached the officers who usually are very polite and helpful to me as an NGO (humanitarian organization). This time was not so. The officer in charge, jumped out of his chair and waving his arms and screaming told me to shut up. “You are not a Filipino! You have no right here! You will not interfere in our justice system!” Quietly but firmly I pointed out that warrant-less arrest was illegal, that they had lured him. I asked for the legal documentation and the name of the arresting officer. I had done this many times before and I knew the law and rights of the one arrested.

The officer in charge exploded in fury. His face changed color and he roared at me. We went into an interrogation room where he continued to yell. “You will not have anything to do with this case! This is a notorious criminal and we have recovered evidence of his crimes! You are not a Filipino! Don’t you dare speak English to me!”

I looked at him and in perfect Tagalog, reminded him the date of the last arrest of B and that all his crimes were drugs, not robbery or weapon related. With a brush of his hand, he said he would not entertain me a moment longer. He stormed out of the room and I could hear him threatening B.

Another officer came in the room and sat on the edge of the desk near me. In a hushed voice he said, “It’s okay, ma’am, just go home. Wait and see what will happen. B will be okay.”

The court system is overcrowded here. There are not enough judges to deal with the case load. You can sit in jail for 3 months before you have your first hearing. Then it can be years before your sentencing. No one will defend the poor. Sometimes they are arrested just because an arrest is needed. The charged has no choice but to accept the crime they are charged with.

There are many ways to have cases dismissed and we have worked these avenues before but never by illegal measures. For the next 36 hours, the police continued to badger the mother demanding money for bail. Again and again, I counseled the mother explaining what they police were doing was illegal. The mother, a poor squatter, with no education, could not grasp my explanations. She just wanted money to get her son out. When I refused, she sneered at me that I didn’t care about B. I was proud and useless. She said I was no help to the Filipino.

My tears fall silently as I sit now, alone in the dark. I know of the beatings that occur in the midnight hours of the prisoners in Station 8. I have seen the bruises and the tears of the men that are tormented there by the sadistic police officers. I have cried with them. I have heard stories that have haunted my dreams for weeks. But I cannot let them win!

My own heart and pride are wounded as the nasty words of the officer echo in my ears. The temptation to take the attitude of the average Filipino, Bahala na. (Whatever happens, happens.) Even if B is not guilty this time, I’m sure at some time he should have been caught. I feel apathetic. Lord, it would be so easy to just let it all go. No one forces me to go weekly to take food and clothes to the prisoners that we know are hungry. Many of the ones we visit and pray with, have been abandoned and rejected by their families. They are alone. It is not our problem.

The rights of the poor are abused every day. They are viewed as useless, as a burden to society. The women are taken advantage of, their children are abused. Their men are used as laborers and scapegoats. They are oppressed on all sides. There is no hope for them to stand on and no belief that they can ever change. And Jesus did say we will always have the poor with us…

But someone must stand up for them, though I am tired and hurting. God is for us- not for only the rich and educated- but for all those who love him. This battle is surely not flesh and blood. The devil loves captivity and despair. No, I am determined. What I can do, I will do, to fight for the rights of the poor that God has put in our life.

On Saturday, after 24 hours, I was sure, Elmer, his family called him “Boy”, would die. He was hardly conscious. He wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t drink. I was sure his lungs were full of fluid. After every coughing fit, I would hold my breath to see if he kept on breathing. Read more

His skin has a sallow color, his lips dry. He is extremely weak, dehydrated, and unbelievably thin. The odor of death, sweet and it stains my nostrils.

Somehow watching him struggle to breathe, robs me of my own breath. Read more

I am livid. My mind whirling. How can this be called medical treatment?

Her mother is hysterical. The grandmother’s face swollen from crying. The grandfather sounding his own cries of unbelief and distress. In the chaos, I struggle to understand the whole story and I am distracted by Crystal… she doesn’t stop whimpering. Read more