Justin, 11, is a happy child living in a rural town in Batangas. He is the eldest of three children. His family earns meagerly from various menial farm and construction jobs available in town.
Last year, he suffered from appendicitis. The boy was writhing in pain and vomiting when he was rushed to the hospital to undergo appendectomy.
After his operation, Justin couldn’t urinate, pass gas nor defecate. The doctors found out that his intestines were swollen and needed to be temporarily taken out to avoid further complications.
“We were told to go back to the hospital after two to three months for his third operation. However, they said we would need more than Php100,000 ($2000) for Justin’s final operation. We were stunned. Where are we going to get that much amount? We’ve already spent too much for his two initial operations,” Justin’s mother, Ethel, explains, blinking back tears.
The family took Justin home, his intestines exposed. For several months, the family became Justin’s caregiver while he was recuperating. He needed help in bathing, eating and walking in the first few weeks after his return from the hospital.
As Justin slowly gained his strength, he could do things on his own but needed to hold his exposed intestines. “I was holding my intestines with one hand, while writing my assignments with the other hand. I couldn’t do heavy tasks like carrying heavy objects nor could I play. At first, I was ok with my situation but later I started wishing that I am ‘normal’ again,” the boy admits, saddened by his condition.
Justin was not allowed to play. “He would stay just stay home or look at us while we play in the yard. He wasn’t allowed to run,” his sister, Princess, 8, adds.
Seeing his son’s condition was agonising to his mother. “I told myself maybe this is just God’s trial to us, to test our faith in Him.” Ethel never lost hope that God would provide them what they need.
A few months before Christmas, the family received good news: World Vision and South Korea’s JYP would help Justin. The family was ecstatic. After series of medical consultations and preparation, Justin was off to his final medical operation.
Ethel said she was both happy and anxious at the same time. “I was praying that everything would turn out ok,” she says.
Justin’s third operation, which remedied his exposed intestines, was successful. During a World Vision staff’s latest visit, Justin was up and about, laughing, and playing with his siblings. He also helps in house chores.
“We’re planning to go around the neighbourhood to do Christmas carol,” Justin excitedly shares. Singing Christmas songs to their neighbours in exchange for money or candies has been the siblings’ favourite activity days before Christmas. They would spend the money to buy their favourite dishes: fried chicken and spaghetti.
Hearing her son talk about Christmas makes Ethel smile. “God heard my prayer,” Ethel says.