It all happened one night when Hans Sy, who was watching the TV with the late Henry Sy Sr., saw philanthropist and beauty guru Ricky Reyes crying and pleading on the news.
Child Haus, a temporary home for cancer-stricken kids founded by Reyes, was on the verge of getting evicted from the property where it was built. Little did Hans know that his curiosity as to why Mother Ricky was crying on TV would be the start of something that will change his life forever.
“When he explained the incident, I myself felt that children should not suffer like this, and then I told Ricky, ‘Can you show me where you moved them temporarily?’” recalled Hans, “When I went to the house it was so crowded and felt [that] this is not right. So immediately, I decided to buy a house for them.”
After just a few months, Hans handed the keys of the house he bought in Quezon City to Reyes. This served as a halfway house for cancer-stricken kids and their parents for more than three years. But as the need for a bigger and better shelter emerged, Hans did not hesitate to lend a helping hand to them again. Hans, who is the chairman of executive committee of SM Prime, bought a piece of land near the Philippine General Hospital and built a seven-storey building. And this building was donated to child Haus as their permanent home during Hans’ 60th birthday.
“I tell myself that at that age, they don’t understand why they’re sick, why they can’t act like a normal kid,” said Hans, “It really touched my heart and that’s why I’m all out in supporting them.”
Hans’ compassion for young cancer patients did not stop there. He not only gives out of his own pocket but also often asks friends to donate. Because of his numerous efforts to support the shelter, the Child Haus kids treat him as part of the family, fondly calling him Kuya Hans every time he would go there and celebrate his birthday with them.
Because of the pandemic, Hans has chosen to forego his annual celebration at Child Haus.
But Child Haus director Mother Ricky decided to throw a physically-distanced celebration during the shelter’s 17th founding anniversary to thank Kuya Hans for all his help.
To date, Child Haus has been helping cancer-stricken kids for 17 years. With the support of generous donors like Hans and other volunteers, the shelter has been able to open its doors to more than 17,000 kids.
During the lockdown, Child Haus had to call the doctors of the kids to coordinate their treatment. Hans, as well as the other donors, provided shuttle services for the kids to safely transport them where their doctors are so they can receive the needed treatment.
And because cancer-stricken kids are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, Mother Ricky had to ensure that nobody would acquire the dreaded disease by strictly implementing safety measures.
“Kuya Hans at sa lahat ng mga donor namin, we’re glad to say that during the pandemic, the most vulnerable children who have cancer [that are in Child Haus], nobody perished from COVID-19,” said Mother Ricky in his speech.
During the shelter’s anniversary, Hans launched a program to acknowledge the heroes of the shelter, called One Dream For Humanity.
“Ang ating donors at volunteers ay tatawagin na nating ‘Dream Keepers’,” said Reyes, “Ang mga ‘Dream Keepers’ ay talagang hindi bumibitaw. Sila ‘yung mga taong all throughout the time ay nandon.”
Twenty individuals and organizations who have been helping Child Haus were recognized, including the Metro Manila Mayors Spouses Foundation Inc., Feed the Hungry Foundation, Rotary Club of Salcedo, Hi-Precision Diagnostic Center, and the Santisimo Rosario Chorale Group.
As for Hans, he reminded the kids of ChildHaus to keep an optimistic outlook in life, because even though life has many adversities, there is always a reason to be positive.
“What is best is to be strong, be positive, and look forward to life,” he concluded.