One of my task in Smile Train is to write about patients stories , so that more people will know more about cleft lip and palate and how’s that impacting to the patient life, the families and the communities. I found this job really interesting because it enables me to meet with so many different people and each has a unique different story to tell. And from the conversation with them and by being with them through the process, I feel that I’ve learned something for my self too.
So now let me share a bit about things that inspired me from the people that I’ve met so far in this volunteering journey with Smile Train Philippines
First of all, most of the people I met are the patient parents . They all have different stories and background but there’s one similarity that you can find on them, their eyes are full of hope. Hope that this is the beginning of a better life for their child. They come to the hospital with high enthusiasm. They didn’t complaint about the weather condition nor about the long journey that they need to take to get there ( this really hits me hard, because I often complaints about traffic jam or about the hot weather) . A lot of them need to take 2-3 rides to get to the hospital and they usually go out from early morning. They need to allocate the whole day to go the hospital and to come back home. And they also need to budgeted the money wisely, because for some of them this means they will have no income on that day.
Usually the one that brings the child to the hospital is the mother, well there’re patients that came with both of the parents , and I did meet with one or two dads, but in general is the mother and sometimes accompanied by the grandma. Most of them are still young in early 20’s and some of them also becomes the breadwinner of the family.
I usually sat down with them and listened to their life story while waiting for their turns to see the doctor. They’re very open and not shy, I guess they also want their story to be heard. Every one has a story about how they cope with their life situation and how to take care of their child with special needs , but what I can tell you is that they are all very strong women. They’re expert in juggling with multitasks and they rarely think about them selves.
Despite of their tiredness, you can see clearly from the look in their eyes that their love to the child is unconditional and what matter the most to them is just the child health. Most of them’re still wondering what happened during the pregnancy that caused the baby born with cleft. But they also understand that the most important thing now is how to take care of their child with the right treatment.
What inspired me the most is their positivism despite of all the tough situations, they remains hopeful and cheerful. They kept smiling, didn’t say any complains and they’re just thankful to receive the free cleft treatment. In a way they’re already practicing life mantra of “living in the now and being present” , which I find it very hard to practice in my life . They taught me that life is still a blessing regardless the difficulties that happened along the way, that everybody has their own battle in life and that’s not the reason for not being happy & thankful.