Sunday, August 1, 2010

No Longer Invisible

Alonamae Cardinosa is made in God's image. At just a few months of age, she had a high fever which went untreated and caused a severe form of Cerebal Palsy. Along with the debilitating affliction, she suffered severe seizures throughout the day and her eyes were crossing frequently. I met her in August 2006, in Santos Compound in Antipolo City, Rizal, near the site where First Love International was going to build the Arthur Center. Her mom brought her out to me as I was telling the community how the Arthur Center could help them. Alonamae was screaming and writhing in agony when her mom handed her to me. My heart broke, I wept, and began to pray. Her seizures stopped at that moment. A few days later, her eyes stopped crossing.

The impoverished culture in the Philippines is frustrating. Though certain services were available, the family was embarrassed to ask for help, and didn't have any resources to help Alonamae with. So when I arrived in the spring of 2008, I found Alonamae frozen in time. She looked much the same as before, and her mom was caring for her in the same way; breast and bottle feeding her at age 4.

In the summer of 2008 my family provided some funds to Jeff Long at Kids International Ministries to get her involved in better health care. Kids International receives ongoing funds to pay Alonamae's father, Tirso, a salary. Funds were also provided to build a sturdy concrete home in Cuatro community, the squatter area near the New Faith Family Children's home. These were all positive steps to get the family closer to a resource that could help, but Alonamae still wasn't getting the care she needed. The reasons go back to the impoverished culture and Alonamae's mom not understanding the proper way to care for and nurture her special needs kiddo. Alonamae is the fourth of soon to be 7 children in a very small house in a squatter area.

God brings a variety of missionaries through the area where Alonamae lives, and Jeff Long tells them about her. Certain heroes have stepped forward and are working on long term solutions to Alonamae's posture and mobility as well as her nutritional health. Among them; Holly Clark, Paula Pittman, and Linda Zipprich. I'm extremely thankful that I can network with these good people who truly care about Alonamae and want God's best for her.

She was not out of harms way when I arrived in Manila. Her mother still fed her while Alonamae was flat on her back, so she aspirates the
milk frequently; choking down the only food source offered. Her mother felt that Alonamae couldn't handle other kinds of food so she didn't try to feed her anything but the cheap powdered milk they could get at the market. Alonamae was lying on the floor of their home when I met her. She had aspiration pneumonia, and was starving to death. At the age of 6 years and 3 months, she weighed 12 pounds and was in respiratory distress. It was painful to watch her just try to survive. When we tried to make her more comfortable, I witnessed a "silent scream". It was horrifying to watch. She couldn't muster the strength to cry out or even cough. Only her face told the story of the pain in her tiny little body.

Alonamae is now on antibiotics, nebulizer treatments, cough medicine, and is getting better quality powdered milk, cereal, and tasty combinations of fruits and vegetables under the guidance of Lydia; a nurse at the Children's Home. Alonamae's health is dramatically better in just the last 5 days, as we observe her relaxed breathing, and the doctor told us she now weighs 16 pounds. Some new friends; Brian and Emilee Helton, provided a baby stroller for Alonamae which has been a huge advantage to keeping her sitting up and allowing her to breathe much more easily. The stroller also provides much needed mobility for the family so they can take Alonamae to Lydia for check ups, and go to church as a family more easily.

Alonamae Cardinosa now has a hopeful future although we wait to see what God is going to do in her life. God willing, Alonamae will be a delight to her family and so many people like me who have fallen in love with her for many years to come. It is extremely gratifying to me that Alonamae is no longer an invisible child in the vast sea of poverty in the Philippines.

Tom Wenzl
CaƱon City, Colorado

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