Written By Lily Mae G. Quilbio, Visayas Children’s Program Coordinator, Operation Blessing Philippines
It was February of this year when I first met Crisanto Semaña, a skinny 5 year old lad. He was with his “Amay” – what he fondly calls his grandfather, Tatay Felix – who has adopted him since his mother died days after giving birth to him.
Crisanto was identified as a 3rd degree malnourished child. He is a shy boy, hiding behind his “Amay”. His finger and toe nails are long and dirty. He is pale, rugged and with long hair. At 5 years old, he had not yet been able to step into a day care class because they didn’t have the finances to support his studies. His father left him, bringing his Kuya (older brother) with him, with no support, whether monetary or for his other needs.
From our house to house visitation, I have found that Crisanto is always with his “Amay” – to the river, to wash clothes, to fetch water at the well, to go fishing. His grandfather is his playmate, playing with toys made from scrap. Tatay Felix told us that Crisanto didn’t play with the other kids or outside of their fence.
Felix Donila, 84, a fisherman, and his longtime partner Eufemia Semaῆa, 61, who suffered a stroke and has been paralyzed for 3 years, are the ones who take care of him. Just recently, Eufemia has been exercising through walking, but is only able to take a few steps. The relatives of Crisanto’s mother have suggested that they have Crisanto adopted by a family who can raise him well, but Tatay Felix wouldn’t allow the adoption to happen, taking Crisanto from them and promising that he will do anything for the child to live a healthy life. But that did not happen. Because of Tatay Felix’ lack of education, he is not able to find a good job.
The devastation of typhoon Ruby took away their house and boat. In order to sustain even just their viand, Tatay Felix and Crisanto catch fish by net just at the seashore. When they have a big catch, they can sell some of it and earn money for their other needs. But Tatay Felix can no longer do hard work for long periods of time due to his age and because he has been sickly lately. They are blessed to have Crisanto as part of Operation Blessing’s (OB) Bless-a-Child (BAC) program.
June 23-24, 2015 was our latest visit to Mantang for the laboratory exams of the BAC beneficiaries. We saw some changes in the character of Crisanto. He is not that shy anymore since he started attending his classes. He now loves to play with his fellow BAC beneficiaries and can go to school even if his grandfather is not with him. One of his teachers, Teacher Vilma, extends her help to Crisanto. She knows what the situation of the child is and is willing to help him in his assignments and his other learning needs.
Tatay Felix is very much thankful for the opportunity that OB has given to Crisanto, for supplying the needs of his studies, taking care of his health and feeding him delicious and healthy food that they are not able to give to him. He is thankful for their local pastor, Ptr. Melina Pines, and her coordinator because it is they who are taking care of the child, and for Teacher Vilma because she helps Crisanto in his assignments and gives extra time to teach him. Now all his worries are slowly fading because he feels that Crisanto is in good hands.
They were not only blessed with the BAC program, but they are also one of the house beneficiaries in Mantang. This is part of OB’s thrust to provide holistic service to the communities it serves, and you can be a part of it! Visit http://obphil.com/home or call 477 7802 to 04 and 06 to find out how.