Restoring Eyesight, Restoring Hope: Field Notes from Kapampangan Development Foundation Site Visit

Article authored by Rizza M. Paray

One of Alay foundation’s ongoing field programs is to locate people suffering from cataracts of the eye and poor eyesight.  We interview these prospective patients to identify need and we then transport them, under the kind guidance of Ma’am Aida Cleofas, an Alay Foundation volunteer, to Kapampangan Development Foundation in San Fernando, Pampanga.  Once they reach KDF they are screened for the procedure, undergo surgery, and then return for their post-operative follow-up visits.  The people travel for hours to reach Pampanga but they endure the journey with the hope of having their eyesight restored at no cost to them at any time.  The alternatives for those with cataracts is to have their operations at local hospitals where they will be billed the balance after the government subsidy of PhilHealth which is altogether too expensive for so many Filipinos who live in absolute poverty.

Dianne and I made our first site visit to our partner organization, Kapampangan Development Foundation, on May 8th.  Our founder, Dr. Sobrepena, introduced us to KDF’s compassionate staff.  We took a guided tour of KDF’s facilities and we were able to capture our visit through photography.  Dianne and I had the good fortune of meeting with several patients preparing for surgery as well as those returning for their post-operative follow-up appointments.  KDF and its dedicated staff conduct this surgical outreach program with passion and with empathy for the community they serve.  While some medical missions are designed to move from one area to another and yet another – making follow-up visits impossible, Kapampangan Development Foundation’s program for cataract patients is a dedicated program located in the community and created to see its patient through the whole process to healing – from screening and surgery to all follow-up visits and any concerns that arise in between.

I am excited to report that day by day the number of people visiting our offices for inquiries about the cataract surgeries increases.  It is so very gratifying to help people who are suffering and are in need.  Alay Foundation is an organization that cares about people and it is rewarding to join a group of such committed staff and volunteers.  Together we are reaching those who need our help and services the most.  In a blog post coming soon I will be able to share with you my experiences working with the children in need of cleft lip and/or cleft palate reconstructive surgeries.  Their beautiful spirits will leave an indelible mark on you as they did on me.

Welcome to Alay Foundation’s Official Blog 

For the poor in the Philippines, quality healthcare is more then just a hardship, its a financial impossibility.  Many poor families go without basic healthcare options, such as giving birth in a medical facility with a trained professional.  Instead, these families rely on untrained “birthing attendants” and in some case, unsanitary kitchen tables to deliver their babies.  As a result, infant mortality and maternal death in the Philippines is above average for the region.

Alay Foundation is a new charitable organization that provides help to women, children, and families living in extreme poverty in the San Jose area of the Philippines, giving them access to quality healthcare.

Alay Foundation is working to reduce poverty and help the poor gain access to quality health care in the Philippines in two ways: (1) enrolling women and families in Philhealth, (the Philippine national health insurance program that allows families to purchase health insurance for $60 and covers an entire family for one year) free of charge and (2) by building healthcare facilities with no balance billing.  One of the main problems in the Philippines is that doctors and other health care professionals are balance billing patients instead of just accepting what Philhealth pays, for the indigent population. This leaves poor families unable to afford quality healthcare in the Philippines.

These are the issues Alay Foundation was founded to tackle. Our plan of action is to focus on empowering families by building a bridge between those who need the most and the quality healthcare that everyone deserves.