“December’s gifts - custom, ceremony, celebration, consecration - come to us wrapped up not in tissue and ribbons, but in cherished memories. This is the month of miracles…. Where there is Love, there are always miracles. And where there are miracles, there is a great joy.”
- Sarah Ban Breathnach
December can mean many things to Rotarians. It is considered the peak month in the retail industry where I am connected. For Rotary, December used to be the Family Month but now it is Disease Prevention and Treatment Month.
Disease prevention and treatment is one of the Rotary Foundation Areas of Focus and for good reason. The health and vitality of a person, a family, and a community can be seriously impaired by what in many cases is a preventable disease. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
Disease prevention is also the keystone to progress in other areas of focus like Water and Sanitation and Maternal & Child Health. These areas of focus interplay.
As we observed Disease Prevention and Treatment month, we welcomed the
lowering of covid cases in the Philippines. Vaccination and building a herd
community led to a drop in the number of covid cases and deaths.
This is an encouraging development allowing Rotarians to celebrate their time with families and friends, a tradition we kept despite the pandemic. Families bring out the old glass and silver and set the table in a certain way, sing the old Christmas songs, say the same prayer, and wear a certain outfit. These are rituals, unconsciously done, but are ways of relieving stress and bringing out the Christmas gifts of hope, faith, and love. This is our second year of Christmas in times of covid pandemic and we have come to live with it. We learned to adapt and do our best to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, in our hearts.
But while we were wishing for a joyful Christmas, nature’s wrath through super typhoon Odette, created havoc and a major disaster in Siargao, Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Ormoc, Southern Negros, parts of Panay, Palawan, and other areas. The toll of damage was so huge. Trees fell, roads and bridges were destroyed, thousands of houses literally vanished and a multitude of families were displaced.
Some had to spend Christmas in evacuation centers. There is no power, no water, and nothing to eat in the badly hit areas.
Within three days after Odette passed, the Council of Presidents in Negros Occidental and some Rotary Clubs immediately mobilized relief operations in Kabankalan and Binalbagan. Disaster response teams were activated and the D3850 provided the funds immediately for disposal. Heroism and volunteerism at their best.
So far, the biggest relief operation of the District was done on December 26, 2021 in Sipalay, Negros Occidental. District Governor Nominee Mate Espina led the operation. Rotary clubs coordinated and cooperated. Water, food packs, medicines, and water purifiers were given to the chosen beneficiaries in Mambaroto, Nabulao, Cabadiangan in Sipalay, Negros Occidental. A generator was purchased and installed to power some water treatment equipment that will enable the continuous supply of potable water.
Part of the relief operations was a medical mission led by Past District Governor Jundad Legislador and held at Barangay Mambaroto. Timely, during the diseaseprevention month, the wounds of typhoon victims were treated and infection was prevented. Vials for injection of anti-tetanus medicines, Human Tetanus immunoglobulin 250, and Tetanus Toxoid were procured and injected to those needing it. Minor surgeries were done and three doctors conducted medical check-ups to about 300 residents to prevent fever, colds, influenza, and spread of diseases and leptospirosis.
Our deepest gratitude goes to other Districts, Rotarians, business establishments, relatives, and friends of Rotary for their generous contributions. The swift response and action of clubs are indeed miracles happening in December.
Every single day of our lives, a Supreme Being, touches our hearts, lets miracles happen, and puts us in awe and wonder.
A Rotarian shared with me this story of what happened in a foundation where she also belongs. This story is now shared with you with permission from Miss Anna Balcells. She is the founder and leader of a charitable organization, Kalipay Negrense Foundation, Incorporated, in Negros Occidental, which takes care of abandoned, abused, and neglected children.
Anna was severely ill due to the Covid 19 virus. She was placed under intensive
medical treatment. It was so painful and debilitating for her. But despite her
condition, her heart and mind were still on the children and the status of the
foundation considering the dwindling of donations due to the pandemic.
Last December 06, 2021, the 16th day of her isolation, Anna prayed and asked Heaven for healing and for a sign from God on whether the foundation will still continue receiving children.
After the heavenly conversation, her doctor called to say that she has no more infection, her blood tests were good and her lungs were recovering. She cried tears of relief.
Then the unexpected happened. That same day, she was informed by Adel, a Kalipay staff, that a newborn baby girl, still with her umbilical cord, was to be rescued. The baby, placed in a Gucci plastic bag, was abandoned somewhere in a bag in Silay City, Negros Occidental. A newborn baby came into the life of the foundation! Anna immediately prayed to God for a name and instantly she heard the name “Daniela”. Daniela experienced the first miracle in her life. She was meant to live. This is a sign from God that the foundation must continue its mission to save babies and children. Anna’s prayers were answered.
The name Daniel or Daniela is biblical and it means “God is my Judge”. There is this story in the Bible of Daniel coming out of Lion’s den unscathed and unharmed because of God’s protection. The plan of a Supreme Being for Daniela is unfolding. The story brought me to tears.
The story of Daniela reminds us that we in Rotary have the power and the capacity to also save one life at a time. Now, we are even saving the lives of hundreds of families, adults, and babies in the Odette stricken areas. While Odette dampened our spirits, Daniela is inspiring us to give hope. Nothing and no one must stop us from serving to change and save lives.
Wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year!