Transforming Lives

Joseph is a tiny little 9 year old boy, who looks more like a 5 year old. He lives with his 4 older siblings and parents in a small one room house next to a busy road in one of the slums surrounding Tabunok. His father is blind, and so it is up to his mother to provide all the financial income for his family. Joseph’s entire family are well known to Mercy in Action. His oldest brother is enrolled on the Alternative Learning System through Mercy in Action and is doing really well – he is currently working towards achieving his High School Certificate. His other siblings however have struggled to stay in school and so are regular members at our drop in centre, where they shower, eat and receive schooling from Mercy in Action’s Teacher.

In July last year, Joseph’s left foot was run over by a taxi as he was crossing the road. No one stopped to help him, and so it was left to his siblings to carry him home. The wound was very deep, with quite a large chunk of flesh missing. His mother took him to the local hospital, where doctors supposedly treated it and sent him back home. When staff saw Joseph a few weeks later, he was limping around, through the dust and the dirt with a huge open wound. To the staff and volunteers in Cebu, it was one of the worst botched operations they had ever seen. Due to his living conditions the wound had become very infected and wasn’t healing properly. The doctors had also neglected to take into consideration the fact he had lost a sizeable amount of skin on his foot; therefore, when the foot tried to heal and close the wound it twisted and manipulated his foot into an unnatural position. This resulted in his toes being in the wrong place, and he was only able to limp around on the side of his foot.

Mercy in Action felt compelled to get involved. If nothing was done he would never walk, let alone run, properly again. He would be classed as disabled, and his future job prospects would be severely hindered. Mercy in Action approached a surgeon in a private hospital in Cebu City, who agreed to carry out the operation once the foot was free from infection. The operation was to be paid for partly by Mercy in Action and partly through the hospital’s charitable fund. To ensure the foot was ready, Joseph visited our Drop in Centre twice a day to take his medication and have the wound cleaned and redressed by our staff. After four weeks the infection had cleared and he was ready for surgery.

The operation went according to plan and Joseph has now been staying in our boy’s home for two months whilst his foot has been recovering. Having three meals a day of nutritious food has also done him a lot of good! He was in the home over Christmas time, and had his first experience of a Christmas celebration, with lots of food and presents. He said he would normally be carol singing on Christmas day to earn some money for food for his family.

He still has one more surgery to go, which will involve a skin graft to replace the skin on his foot that was lost, to enable the foot to heal back into its proper shape and size. After this, he should be able to walk, run and play like other children his age. Once he has fully recovered he will move back in with his family, who have missed him greatly these last few months. It is also hoped he will be re-enrolled on our schooling programme in June. We will have a further report once the second operation has taken place. Thank you for your donations and support that make life changing events like this possible.

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