Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hannah's Hundred

The gift of life is the most precious gift of all.

If you would like to pay it forward by giving a little girl a shot at life, please read on...

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my three birthday wishes. Today, I write about the fourth one. About a month ago, I came across the story of Hannah Ysabelle Cordoviz through my friend Rapa Lopa's Facebook site. Hannah is a one year old girl afflicted with Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS) - a condition wherein the nerve center that allows Hannah to breathe while sleeping does not function. The syndrome occurs in 1 out of every 1M newborn babies. In the Philippines, there are only three known cases of CCHS, the eldest is now three years old. CCHS patients are expected to lead long and productive lives provided they get the care and necessary medical equipment required for their day to day existence.

A ventilator is CRUCIAL to Hannah's survival. Her parents, Carlo and Joann are so steeped in debt that everything they make now, all go into paying the hospital bills they incurred while Hannah was in the hospital for eight months this year. They have also had to quit both their jobs to care for her 24/7. A portable ventilator costs 750,000 pesos. You can read more about their story in Hannah's Bassinet.

When I first blogged about Hannah, my blogmate and friend Tessa Mendoza Cruz, a physical therapist based in Atlanta, was so moved, that on her own, she circulated the letter to several ventilator suppliers in the United States. We had been praying for someone to either donate a unit or sell it to us at a substantial discount. And God answered our prayers!

An offer came through an email, for us to purchase the ventilator at an amazingly discounted cost! The offer was too good to be true and far beyond our wildest dreams and expectations. But isn't that the way the Lord works?

Between the three of us - Tessa, Rapa and myself - we decided to split the expected cost and create our own fundraising efforts.

And this is mine...

"Hannah's Hundred" is a 5K race that I plan to run on November 23, 2008. It is a race sponsored by UNICEF, aptly titled "Walk On The Child's Side". Now, I am no true-blue runner and this will be a major challenge for me. As of this writing, I have only ran a measly 3K and at a very slow pace :) I hope and pray that you will help me run this race for Hannah. I do not expect to win the race, only to complete it with Hannah as my motivation to run it to the best of my ability.

How does it work?

I am looking for at least 100 kind individuals who will pledge at 1,000 pesos each for the race I will run. Roughly, that is 200 pesos/kilometer. I am entering the 5K category. Each person who donates 1,000 pesos to the cause will be entitled to a raffle ticket.

What do you win?

Aside from being able to contribute and give the gift of breath and life to Hannah, you can win a very special prize. My good friend, the highly talented and very generous architect and visual artist Joven Ignacio has so graciously donated a watercolor painting of his which he titled "Hannah". Every 1000 pesos you donate to Hannah's Hundred will get you one chance to win Joven's beautiful watercolor painting (17 x 23). This precious artwork is of considerable value and blessed be the person who will take it home :)

Currently, I already have pledges from 5 people and I am looking for 95 more kind and generous souls. We all know that times are very difficult but one lesson I have learned time and again is that when we find the courage to go beyond ourselves, when we step out of the shadow of our own sadness, it is then that we feel braver, blessed and more optimistic about our circumstances. Somehow it has always been in giving that we become more fulfilled. It takes many kind hearts to give one child a better chance at life.

Will you run the race with me and be a part of HANNAH'S HUNDRED?

If you would like to make a pledge, or a deposit, please leave me a message here or email me at and I will acknowledge your pledge/deposit via email. If you know of others who may want to help Hannah out, please send this post to them. Any funds collected in excess of 100K will be donated to Hannah's parents to help defray her medical expenses. The raffle will be held after the race, in the first week of December. By God's grace, Hannah will get her ventilator, and a blessed donor will bring home the "Hannah" painting in time for Christmas.

Thank you very much!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Book for Grieving Children

I knew loss as a very young girl when my father died of a heart attack when I was 16 years old. In 1981, an adolescent like myself could not make heads or tails of what the whole grief experience was all about. Drawing from my own personal experience and that of my child's, a little over a year ago, I set out to write a children's story with Pia as my subject. It was the story of how she coped in the first year after we lost Migi. Back in 1998, she was all of seven years old.

"Heaven's Butterfly" is a story about how to help children deal with the loss of a loved one through death. Pia and I pray that the book will be able to help many other children and their parents who have experienced the death of a loved one. In the book is a small section on how parents and teachers can help children grieve well.

It's not always easy to share your story with the world. It was very healing for the two of us to write this. When we saw the illustrations the first time, we really cried. In putting our grief into words, for Pia, especially, our lives have finally come full circle after ten years.

The illustrations were made by the very talented
Panch Alcaraz whose amazing gift made our story come alive. Panch was able to capture the essence of Migi and Pia in the photographs, and how we were as a family 10 years ago. An interesting side note is that while working together, I discovered that Panch's father, Pat, was my former boss at Philippine Airlines in the late 1980s. Again, it never ceases to amaze me how God brings people together for a purpose.

"Heaven's Butterfly" was written to honor the memory of our little boy blue who taught us the meaning of love and selflessness. It was also written for all the other children who walk the delicate journey from healing to hope. Published by Anvil, it is due for release very soon.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Has Justice Been Served?

Seventeen years ago. On a cold, dark evening. A sixteen year old girl begs for her life. Deaf to her pleas, for some unfathomable reason, she is shot, in cold blood.

Seventeen years later, in the dead of the night, while the whole world sleeps, the man who shot the 16 year old in cold blood, is set free.

I wonder what thoughts must be going through Hultman's hearts right now? What would I do, if I were in their shoes? I suppose, forgiveness comes, eventually, at some point in the road. But isn't it also true that one must pay for the consequences of one's sin?

What is the basis for clemency? For pardon? Can someone please explain this to me? If you were the Hultman's how would you feel? Is 17 years behind bars enough penalty? Maybe it is. Did Mr.Teehankee find God in jail?

I would be very interested in a story, in an interview with him. How was your life changed by the experience? What did you discover while you were in jail?

Are you planning to seek the Hultman's forgiveness?

If the Jewish concentration camp prisoner was able to forgive the Nazi who massacred his entire family...If the Amish whose daughters were mercilessly shot by the man who took them hostage were able to forgive...

No one is beyond redemption. There is earthly justice and Divine justice. I suppose the story does not end here. It would be interesting to listen to the opinion and the sentiments of both sides and see how the story will unravel from hereon.