“The longer she moves around, the more her spine curve in. Her back – specifically her spinal cord -- was in danger all the time,” Doc Mari Anton Lim of Tzu Chi Foundation-Zamboanga City Chapter told us by phone yesterday.
This was after we brought Cherry Love who, in spite her congenital leg problem (not polo as we were earlier told by our Kris Library staff in Zambo), have been walking almost daily after school to read or borrow books at the Kris Library in Manicahan, Zamboanga City to pursue her dream to become a certified public accountant one day.
Moved by her inspiring story of determination and drive to succeed in life in spite her physical deformity, our Kris-Zambo volunteers led by my mom Aida Natividad Nocum brought Cherry Love to Tzu Chi, which have been known far and wide to be helping poor people need medical help.
And we were not disappointed because Doc. Anton and other Tzu Chi staff immediately took Cherry Love, a Grade 3 student at the Manicahan Elementary School, under Tzu Chi’s care and promised to defray the cost of operating left Cherry’s foot so that it may be fitted with prosthetic leg made up partly with a high-density PVC material.
“There is a big chance for Cherry to walk again three or four months after her operation. We have handled far worse cases,” Doc Anton said of Cherry Love’s birth abnormality. For now, Tzu Chi lent Cherry’s family a wheel chair so that she may go around without putting undue pressure on her back to compensate for the absence of a leg.
Asked about her experience, Cherry said: “I was so shy, but Doc Anton and many others at Tzu Chi made me feel comfortable. I am excited to walk again like any normal person. Walking better can help me carry my school bags better ... as well as carry more borrowed books from the Kris Peace Library.”
We thank the Tzu Chi, through its self-giving and indefatigable volunteers like Dr. Anton, for living up to the spirit of the charitable organization founded by Master Cheng Yen, a Taiwanese Buddhist nun (bhikkhuni), teacher, and philanthropist.
Master Cheng, also known all over the world as the "Mother Teresa of Asia," founded in 1966 the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, commonly known as Tzu Chi; its motto is "instructing the rich and saving the poor".
Later, Cheng Yen's Charity, Medicine, Education, and Culture Missions developed, and to the present the Tzu Chi Foundation has become involved in international disaster relief, bone marrow donation, environmental protection, and community volunteering."
Among the Tzu Chi chapters here in the Philippines, I believe my friend Dr. Anton can very well be considered as the organization’s “human face” because of his many humanitarian works, most notable of which was the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids (ZFLK), which Doc Anton started with the group’s “fire starter” Jay Jaboneta to help children in a mangrove community in Layag Layag who used to swim to school daily. The organization has gown nationwide and was featured in local, internal news organizations and won various international and local awards.
We at Kris Library are honored to have become part of the Yellow Boat Movement when we donated seven boxes of books and school supplies to more than 100 children in Layag-Layag last year. We are happy to have added three more boxes last Friday.
When Cherry Love was a baby, her mother left her to her aunt and the aunt – amid advice from relatives about the difficulties of raising a child with a congenital problem – took Cherry in and loved and raised her as their own child. Today, we are happy Cherry found a new home in Tzu Chi and foster parents like Anton and many other real heroes under Master Cheng.
Thank you Master Cheng. Thank you Doc Anton. Thanks every at Tzu Chi chapters all over the world!