Thursday, March 14, 2013

July 23, 2012: The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever!

We received a surprise visit from a poor carpenter and his wife.  He said he came to simply say "thank you" and to light a candle for all the anonymous people who had made it possible for him to recover from a serious tetanus infection.  We brought him to the chapel where he could light his candle for all the people unknown to him who had donated to the mission fund.
     This man lived in Sarangani Province.  He was a carpenter in a poor village who needed to work other jobs to earn income.  One of these jobs was to make wine from coconut blossom juice.  One day, while climbing a coconut to harvest some juice, he felt a warm sting in his head.  A broken coconut midrib had pierced his scalp.  He continued in his work but when he arrived home he washed his wound with soap and water and forgot about it.  Later he developed fever and restlessness.  He went to the primary care hospital where he was advised to waste no time in going to a better-equipped hospital in General Santos City.  So he came, penniless, without any health insurance.  He was refused admittance in the city hospital for lack of available isolation room.  He had no choice but to go to a private tertiary hospital.  There he languished without medication.
     At the feast of the Corpus Christi, an Apostle of Mary member went to a flower garden to buy flowers.  The gardener was his classmate.  While harvesting flowers, this classmate mentioned that his uncle was in the hospital but that his medicines were so expensive they could not afford it.  The Apostle of Mary member relayed the information to ACIM-Asia office.  With the mission on a tight budget, we decided to simply refer the man to welfare agencies and forgot about him.  Days later, we received a more urgent plea for assistance as the patient had begun to lose consciousness.  Another more desperate plea was sent to the office on June 15, the feast of the Sacred Heart.

     On the feast of the most merciful Heart of Jesus, we simply could not find the heart to keep refusing the desperate patient. Keeping in mind our very tight budget but trusting in the mercy of God, we held a conference. Mathilde Rigolot agreed to have her food budget reduced while other office expenses were slashed in order to afford the expensive human tetanus immunoglobulin.
     The local pharmacy had a grand time selling to us all its stock and even had to call other branches to fill in our order.  We spent around P25,000.00 to help this man.  The injections came in the nick of time. A few hours after the first injection, the patient regained consciousness.  Three days afterwards he was declared fit for discharge. Again the patient asked for help to pay his hospital bill.  But it was too much for us.  He had already overcome the health crisis and we had no more money to help him, so we simply asked him to call on all his relatives and friends and all political and humanitarian agencies to help him because our resources could not help him anymore.  Weeks passed and we heard nothing from the man nor his family.  We wondered, what must have happened to him?
     On July 23, so very unexpectedly, he came knocking at the office gate.  He had just walked home from the hospital.  All the time that we were wondering about him he had been roaming the hospital corridors, knocking on administrative offices, begging for release.  He had begged to be allowed to do some janitorial work just to earn a little to pay for his bill, but he was refused. His wife had knocked on the hearts of all public officials looking for help from whom they received some cash and political aid.  At last, a lawyer from the public health insurance negotiated with the hospital and he was freed.  And the first thought he had in mind was to light a candle for the mission benefactors.  He will never forget how his doctors had warned him that without the injections he would die from tetanus.  Blessed be the merciful God forever.  And thanks be to all generous benefactors!

Mathilde Rigolot, a French volunteer, with Sheryl Ocampo at the airport in Manila

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