When her husband abandoned her five years ago, Cindy Daa drew strength from her three children. She was determined to raise them well, even if she has to do it alone.
She did every job she could to provide for their needs. She accepted laundry works, and sold various food products and snacks, among others. She turned nights into days. There was nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her kids.
But life was cruel.
In 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck Leyte.
The home of Cindy’s mother in Barangay Palanog in Tacloban City, where she and her children moved to after her separation with her husband, was among those flattened by the typhoon. She decided to move with her maternal aunt’s home, which is also located in Barangay Palanog.
However, Cindy did not want to be a burden to her relatives so she built a small room adjacent to her aunt’s house using the Php10,000 she received as Emergency Shelter Assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the aftermath of the storm. It has been her and her children’s home since.
Cindy strived to live independently. She continues to accept laundry works and earns Php300 from it. She also sells street snacks which nets her Php40 a day.
In 2014, just when she was still getting her bearings again, Cindy found out her youngest son, John Benedick, had a hole in his heart.
“I felt like the world crashed in on me. At that time, it was so difficult. I had to beg people so that I can buy his medicines,” recalls Cindy, 28.
Cindy sought help from various organizations but failed to find one that can help with her son’s medications. That was until someone advised her to seek assistance from Tzu Chi Foundation.
When Tzu Chi volunteers learned of her situation, they felt deeply for her.
In 2015, Tzu Chi began supporting John Benedick’s monthly medicine supply, allowing him to take his medicines regularly. When Tzu Chi volunteers revisited John Benedick in March 2017, they found out that his doctor had instructed that he stop taking his maintenance medicines as his condition has improved a lot. Instead, John Benedick was prescribed with vitamins.
Vilma Limpiada was among the Tzu Chi volunteers who kept track of John Benedick’s progress.
“Before, his lips, fingers, and eyes were blue but now he has a healthier pallor unlike before. His body looks healthier too. Before, he couldn’t even stand. His mother was always carrying him but he can stand on his own now and you can even talk to him,” shares Vilma.
John Benedick is now four years old. His mother had feared that he won’t be able to live normally like other children. But today, he can run around and play with his siblings.
Although John Benedick no longer needed medicines, Tzu Chi continues to support the family with a monthly sack of 20-kilo rice.
It was like a burden was lifted off Cindy’s shoulders.
“Tzu Chi helped me a lot. First, with the medications of my son; he was able to survive his condition because Tzu Chi supported his medicines and provided us with rice. To poor families like us, the medicine was the most important because I couldn’t buy them on my own. It was very expensive. That’s why I am so happy with Tzu Chi’s help to us,” says Cindy.
Out of gratitude, Cindy has been making the effort to help with Tzu Chi’s activities as a volunteer. She is present in every Year End Blessing ceremony in Tacloban, helping out in the preparations and the event proper.
“I may not have money to give but I have my strength and time. It’s what I can offer them,” Cindy says, smiling.
Tzu Chi volunteers pay Cindy Daa and her son, John Benedick, a visit on August 28 to update on the child’s health condition and find out in what areas Tzu Chi can still help the family.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
John Benedick Daa’s fingers and skin used to have a bluish tinge due to his heart problem. When the Tzu Chi volunteers revisited him, they find his pallor looks much healthier.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
From being too sickly that he was mostly being carried by his mother, John Benedick Daa chats and entertains the Tzu Chi volunteers who visited their home. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
John Benedick Daa smiles to the camera. After surviving the problem on his heart, he has become healthier and playful.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Tzu Chi volunteers and the Daa family pose for a photo. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】