I spent the most memorable day with this young man yesterday. We went to thank his prosthesis sponsor who went further to pledge support for his studies until college should he aim to do so. I was privileged to share the milestone of him buying and wearing his first long pants; a pair of shoes (the first thought that came to mind when I asked what he wanted; his old ones were heavy) and Lego-like toys (the original is expensive and beyond our budget ☺️).
Lumipad ang lahat na appointments ko for the day. I apologize but I realize then, and after, this was more important than anything.
That single day gave me perspective. It taught me very important lessons. I realized that no matter what circumstance we have in life, we always have a choice. This boy gave me wisdom beyond his years. He said he got used to being ogled, to be teased and asked uncomfortable questions. I know how it was, because I got the taste of how his day was like. Honestly, it made me a little angry ( how people would stare, even stand nearby and watch him) but this boy showed me that we cannot prevent people to do what they do; but we can choose not to be affected by it all; even tease them back. And that, when we see people with disabilities we should not just watch, let us help when we can. They have challenges most of us can never grasp. They do not need our pity, they need our help and encouragement.
He said he takes everything lightly; telling people “hindi ko ginusto magkasakit”. And all throughout our “adult conversation” I cannot help but feel my heart ache. I want to wrap my arms around him and shield him from everything. But this is not possible. He would have to face the world someday all by his lonesome and all I can do now is to help give him all the opportunities and chances just like any kid.
He certainly isn’t entitled. Inspite of his difficulties, he learned how to put on his prosthesis. He plays the guitar and likes to jam with his siblings and cousins. He likes to create things with his hands. There was so much independence and dignity in such a boy all of nine years old. I admire and salute the parents who brought him up; who went the extra mile and will go more miles for this young man.
And I asked permission to tell his story, so that like me, we could all learn the wisdom of being thankful; of facing life with perseverance and spunk regardless of what life brings us.
-Dr. Mae Dolendo