Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference. – Kathy Calvin
Over two decades ago, an act of kindness made a difference in the life of a boy, whose small and emaciated body laid on a simple steel bed in the corner of a small medical facility in Eastern Samar.
New Zealander, David Cowie, the International Director of Marine Reach, witnessed this situation, when he visited the province in 1999. The boy, named Ruel, had a face scarred by a double cleft lip and palate, causing serious difficulty in swallowing. With his tiny body wracked with viruses and infections, Ruel was dying at that time.
Seeing this kind of poor condition, David’s heart was touched and he embarked on a mission to raise funds for Ruel’s surgery. It took a year-long of proper medical care and Ruel was nurtured to health. At present, he has made a full recovery and is now a young adult.
Ruel was just one of thousands of forgotten and unwanted children around the world struggling for life and survival. His story was the inspiration to establish the Ruel Foundation in 2000, bringing impoverished children, who are living in poverty and in isolated areas of developing nations.
Years of bringing healing to Filipino Children
The mission of the Ruel Foundation had reached the Philippines, after it was established in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro by Pauline Curtis-Smith last 2006. Thus, the work of the volunteers and the foundation itself has benefited many Filipino children in the province to have life-changing corrective surgery.
Later, the Ruel Foundation extended its services to disadvantaged infants and children, who are malnourished, orphaned or abandoned to address their basic needs. In 2011, the foundation was registered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as a residential home that accommodates the targeted children.
To meet these needs, ‘Ruel House’ was established in order to take these children from lives of poverty and rejection, and transform them into valued, loved and accepted members of society.
Currently, the Ruel Foundation is a Level II Social Welfare and Development Agency accredited by the DSWD. With this recognition, the Foundation is empowered to intervene in the lives of young children and infants at risk due to crisis situations.
Furthermore, this accreditation helped the foundation to facilitate the long-term security and future of these children along with appropriate placement in a family unit, either rehabilitating them into their original family/relatives, or into another home through the process of adoption. With this mission, the Foundation was recognized as the CCA in MIMAROPA Region with the Most Number of Children Placed to Adoptive Families in 2019.
The Foundation is aiming and looking forward to the Level III accreditation of the DSWD in order to continue its mission to provide targeted children with Christ-centered loving environment, food, clothing, shelter and medical assistance.
Offering home, giving hope
Adoption is a great opportunity for an abandoned child to have a loving family, which he or she could call his or her own. Through the different DSWD-licensed and registered adoption centers and agencies, like the Ruel Foundation, a new home full of hope may be given to them.
Baby P, not her real name, was one of those children who had been neglected by her family. She was admitted to the Foundation in January 2018, six days after she was born. Since then, she has been staying in the shelter and was voluntarily surrendered by her biological family last 2020.
Now, a new family awaits her. She may have been separated very early from her own family, but she is given a new opportunity to have a better life and, more importantly, a loving family by her prospective adoptive parents.
Welcoming Baby P to her new home
After completing the pre-stages of the whole legal adoption process, Mr .and Mrs. P, who are based in Manila, are set to finally place Baby P in their home. It is in 2019, when the couple, who has been married for eight years, decided to adopt a child, as they believe that they are now ready and in the position to nurture a child.
“It’s time na para mag-ampon, hindi na rin kasi kami bumabata,” said Mrs. P who is also diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome, after consulting a specialist over the years.
The Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) of Baby P underwent the administrative phase of the adoption process which includes attendance to the required Adoption and Foster Care Forum; application to DSWD Field Office; assessment of the applicants and preparation of Home Study Report; matching of a child to PAPs; and now, Mr. and Mrs. P has been issued with the Pre-Adoption Placement Authority.
“Gusto namin gawin nang tama… Nakikita namin sa TV na may batas. Nag-research kami online, kailangan daw umattend ng seminar… Doon nalaman namin ang proseso,” she added.
This August 2021, the Ruel Foundation was scheduled to place Baby P under the custody of her adoptive parents, which will be subject to Post-Placement Supervision Period for at least 3 months. But due to the imposition of Enhanced Community Quarantine in Metro Manila, the placement has been delayed for now.
“Super saya, gusto na namin siyang makasama kaso lang nagka-covid. Ito na… kasi nga akala namin wala na talaga iyon meron pala,” Mrs. P gladly shared.
Nevertheless, Baby P had already met Mr. and Mrs. P, through a virtual/video call.
“Tinatawag na niya kaming nanay at tatay parang kapag nakikita na niya kami sa video kilala na niya kami,” she mentioned.
Making a difference to a child’s life
Even if there is still the Judicial Phase to face and undergo, Mr. and Mrs. P are determined to provide a better life for Baby P in Palawan where they have a property.
Like Mr. and Mrs. P, the DSWD, through its accredited agencies like the Ruel Foundation has always envisioned to bring hope to vulnerable and disadvantaged children; even if it is the simplest and smallest act of kindness, still it makes a difference, in many ways.