Sharie is 7 years old now and in grade 1.
Photos: (L) Sharie before we started her on a calculated nutritional diet; (R) 2 years after she had grown and in the photo in her grade 1 uniform
Sharie is our neighbor’s daughter, the only girl in the sibling of 3 brothers. Her mom was my family friend; we grew up with her in our little village in San Pedro. We got to know Sharie’s mom as Yaya (Nanny) Sabel when she looked at my cousin's first born daughter until they left and now lives in the US. Ever since Yaya Sabel has become part of the family, trustworthy and dependable. She helps when she can - looking after the house and our dogs when were out for extended period, washing dishes or helping prep for any celebrations.
When she gave birth to Sharie, I was already working overseas, and I didn’t know about her daughter’s condition until a few years later when I was on holiday. I knew something has to be done, but I don’t know what to do, how and where to get help.
Sharie’s condition is rare; it’s called Esophageal Atresia, a congenital anomaly where the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach was not there when she was born. To breath she has tracheal hole and and to feed a PEG was inserted directly to her stomach. Every time she puts food in her mouth it goes out her neck, and nothing gets to the stomach to satisfy hunger.
She was too small to be operated on according to the doctors at the Philippine General Hospital. Although according to them it has to be treated as early as possible, but too bad for Sharie, PGH is a teaching hospital, doctors come and go so are their opinion on Sharie’s condition until she reached the age of 5 and now 7 years old.
I remember three years ago when the doctors asked her to gain enough weight to be scheduled for the surgery I launched a 4-dollar-a-day campaign, the amount sufficient to feed Sharie according to her nutritionist. It was successful! (see photos above) But no operation was done because of the new doctor's new idea and new plan while Sharie continues to grow older and experience difficulties adjusting to school.
She started to experience being teased at school and starts to feel deprived of food she thinks are delicious. Sometimes Yaya Sabel would just give her food so that she knows how they taste, but she has to watch out because few seconds after Sharie will make a mess from her neck.
They continue to follow up with the doctors at PGH but always returned home with no good news, another rescheduled appointment or demands from the doctors. The to and from to the hospital is expensive for them because Yaya Sabel is the sole breadwinner in their household, sometimes her sons would get some contractual work while her husband looks after Sharie and their small house. So if she doesn’t work as a help (kasambahay) to several families a day, she will not have money to feed them all. It's not only transport cost they worry every scheduled visit, they also worry about the tests or medicine or dye needed. Imagine how much they have to spend just for a check-up? A lot!
As Sharie grows older her condition becomes more critical to undergo the operation she needed – early detection and intervention as always key to good recovery and quality of life. With that in mind, I approached friends and was able to get a slot at the show Alagang Kapatid, a local charity show where they link people in need to either private or public services while at the same time raise awareness of the situation of the people they feature in the TV show.
Through this Sharie was sent to a different hospital and specialist to discuss her situation and talk with her parents what they will do medically and the risks that entail an operation like Sharie’s. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office will take care of the hospitalization and surgery costs when the time comes while the family has to raise funds to support the cost of medicines not covered by the hospital.
We are grateful to the development in Sharie’s life. There is a chance she can experience her first Christmas eating cakes and ice cream from the mouth. But that can only happen if you can extend a little help to her by giving and sharing whatever amount you can towards her hospitalization and future follow-up trips to the hospital. The money would assist them to cope with the financial costs Sharie’s hospitalization, surgery and recovery will entail.
If there's more than enough to what they will need, the funds will be saved up for Sharie's education to make sure she gets the education she needs to become a teacher.
Watch her story and her mother's appeal for help (in Filipino) here!
Thank you very much in advance.
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Cor 9:7