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.