SOME time in 1987, the mother of two kids – a boy and a girl – asked her close friend, Sr. Maria Alessandrina Casas, to look after her children because she will be gone for years to work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong.
The nun willingly took care of the kids, not knowing that this will be the foundation for an orphanage, a blessing in disguise she didn’t see coming. Her original plan was to build a home for the aged because it hurt her seeing the elderly wandering.
After 32 years, “Duyan ni Maria,” a 2,500 sq.km. bungalow orphanage situated in the interiors of Barangay Dapdap in Mabalacat, Pampanga, serves as home to abandoned children, some as young as one year old, referred by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“It just started without dreaming that it will be like this,” said a tearful Casas, now 89 and wheelchair-bound. ‘‘I thank him (Lord) for helping me (with this foundation) and I always ask the Lord na wag kaming pabayaan.”
She said her prayers for the foundation are always heard. The latest help was provided by the Singapore team competing in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Athletes from wakeboarding and softball handed $2,000 (P100,000) worth of cash vouchers bought from a popular mall chain and food packs from a well-loved local fastfood store.
Another non-government group named “Quest” joined the Singaporeans in bringing smiles to kids with cute and fluffy teddy bears.
“Christmas is coming, we can bring some cheer to people who are less fortunate,” said Singapore National Olympic Committee head Christopher Chan. “It just took two to three days to crystallize the idea.”
Marlyn Dagama, executive director of “Duyan” who also supervises a dozen of volunteers, was beyond grateful especially now that they will have enough money for supply of cooking oil.
Merrily munching on her piece of crispy chicken alongside 46 other kids, 12-year- old Sandra Isabel Olango was an image of innocence. She was left to the orphanage by her mother when the now Grade 7 student was only four years old. With no known relatives at all except her deceased mom, the aspiring medical doctor found family in the humble charity.
According to Dagama, Duyan had raised orphans who became doctors, dentists, nurses and teachers, one of them Dr. Jinky Gargar who returns the favor as visiting physician in the foundation’s clinic.