A father will do everything for his children. He will face life challenges with great courage and conquer battles to save his loved ones from despair.
A simple street sweeper from Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal dreams a brighter future for his two sons suffering from cataracts. Edgardo Roa, 48, strives to survive everyday life through cleaning the streets and collecting garbage on his free time. He lost his job as a foreman in 2012 after a stroke, which resulted in mobility problems.
The local government’s program for persons with disability gave him the sweeping job.
“I can really see that Edgardo looks for ways to provide for his children and he doesn’t use his children’s incapability to beg in the streets. We are helping them because they really need it and most especially, he shows efforts on making his sons’ lives at least good and comfortable,” says Erica Camacho-Baccay, a municipal social worker in Rodriguez.
His wife abandoned them four years ago, Edgardo was left in their crumbling house looking after his sons. Their former house, built through his income as a foreman in the past, got washed away by Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009. He was forced to build a shelter made from used wood, tarpaulin, and bamboo sticks since he has no money to build a more decent one.
Despite his suffering, he kept finding ways to cure his sons and provide them a better life in the future. Edel and Charles already underwent cataract removal operation four years ago through a TV station, but they need another operation once they reach five and six years old, respectively.
Edgardo found out about the free eye checkup service from Tzu Chi Foundation from another TV station, which replied to his pleas for help for his children. He brought his sons to the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila on June 23. They received advice for the next steps. The father received a pair of eyeglasses for his slightly unclear vision.
It is not easy to be a single parent and Edgardo sometimes feel like giving up due to the problems beset on Edel and Charles as they grow up. But his unmeasurable love for his children prevailed.
“I was really hurt when my wife left us and almost lost hope. But I clung onto God and surrendered everything to Him. I am able to survive my everyday life because of my children. I cannot lose my drive to live because my sons are depending on me,” says Edgardo.
After a long wait, Edel underwent a successful operation on his right eye on August 9 at the University of Santo Tomas Hospital. Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) ophthalmologist Catherine Macaraig took the lead in Edel’s road to clear eyes.
The loving father’s dream is slowly turning into reality. He took a leave from work to look after Edel since he needs complete attention and rest after the operation.
They are still waiting for the schedule of Edel’s left eye operation as of this writing.
“This happiness is so overwhelming because I can see the comfort that my son experiences because of the cataract removal operation. Despite our hardships in crossing the river just to get in to the hospital, I really pushed through finding ways for my children because it is for their future. I always persevere on taking care of them because I’m a single parent and they depend only on me,” says Edgardo.
Meanwhile, Charles received a pair of eyeglasses for the time being. If no improvement in his eyesight occurs within the next two months, he would be scheduled for an operation.
Edgardo says he may not give his sons a comfortable and fancy life, but his love for them will remain beyond his limited life. Edgardo feels overwhelming happiness because Tzu Chi Foundation does not stop on doing its best to remedy his sons’ eyesight.
Edgardo Roa (center) takes care of his two visually impaired children. They went into the free eye checkup at Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in Sta. Mesa on June 23 with the hope of better eyesight for all of them. Edel (left), 5, and Charles (right), 6, have congenital cataract. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
A nurse checks Edel’s visual capacity. The child already underwent an operation when he was three months old. He would need another operation for his eyesight to normalize. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
A Tzu Chi volunteer crosses a river to reach Roa family’s house. Had it rained on the day of the visit, the river would be too dangerous to cross. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
The Roa family’s house is made out of used pieces of wood and plastic. Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009 washed away their former home. With his current job, Edgardo cannot afford a stronger and more decent one. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
This cradle serves as Charles’s rest area whenever Edgardo needs to do other things such as cooking. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Edel has difficulty reading and writing because of his hazy eyesight. He is currently studying at Manggahan Day Care Center. Despite of his visual incapacity, he excels together with children with normal eyesight. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Working as a street sweeper is the main source of Edgardo’s income to sustain his children’s needs. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Charles received eyeglasses on August 1 at the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila. He would undergo an operation if his vision would not improve within the next two months of using the eyeglasses. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Reynaldo Ramos, a technician from the University of Santo Tomas Hospital Eye Institute, gets Edel’s eye lens measurement. A new lens would be inserted into the child’s eye as part of the procedure to make his vision clearer. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Edgardo is excited for his son’s right eye operation. They travelled early in the morning from Rodriguez, Rizal to be on time for Edel’s operation at the University of Santo Tomas Eye Institute. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
An anesthesiologist checks Edel’s heart rate a few minutes before the operation. He makes sure that the child is physically fit for the procedure. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Edel is being prepared for the general anesthesia.【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
TIMA ophthalmologist Catherine Macaraig is the assigned doctor for Edel’s operation. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
The eye cataract removal operation on Edel Christian’s right eye is a success, but his eye needs protection from dirt and other particles. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Edel Christian’s eyesight improved a lot after the operation. The volunteers are trying to teach him how to read and write more letters and numbers. According to Edgardo, his son can now see more things in his surroundings unlike before. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】