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Finally, a home for a blind child with autism

Inquirer Visayas
By Carla Gomez
Inquirer Visayas
First Posted 18:54:00 06/11/2010

Filed Under: Children, Diseases, Health
AFTER A LONG AND near-hopeless search for a home for a blind orphan child with autism, God provided a miracle.

And John Wigley, 25, of the Associate Missionaries of the Assumption (AMA) from Manchester, England, said it was wonderful to be involved in it.
On Tuesday, Wigley accompanied Ricor de la Cruz, whom he believes is about 7 years old as there are no records of his birth, to his new home at the Calvary Chapel Children’s Home in Bacolod City to live with missionaries Billy and Joe Rosmarino and their 169 other children, after learning about their work through an Inquirer article (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view/20091127-238780/Abused-children-find-love-in-this-home) published in November last year.

Wigley came to the Philippines in September 2009 to work with the Philippine Blind Union in Jaro District in Iloilo as part of a mission that helps the blind and the deaf. It was there where he met Ricor, who was abandoned by his father after his mother died.
Ricor roamed the city with no clothes, played in polluted gutters, and had had little or no care.
With financial help from his friends and family in England, Wigley took Ricor, who had a respiratory problem, for medical treatment. The boy was diagnosed with autism.

The missionary was also told that there was a chance Ricor could see again.

A glimpse
On Dec. 18, 2009, he found the resources to have the boy undergo a cataract operation. But since Ricor should have had the procedure much earlier, the eyes had absorbed the cataract and he will never have a 20/20 vision, Wigley said.
The operation gave Ricor a little of his sight back to be able to run around objects, but Wigley said he was praying that someday, the boy would be able to see colors.

Wigley said that with the money he had raised, he was able to bring Ricor to a caregiver in Santa Barbara, Iloilo, where the country air helped him recover from his respiratory problem.

When Wigley’s money from England ran out, however, he had to bring Ricor back to the blind center in Jaro in February.
The blind adults there should be given lots of credit for having taken Ricor in despite their poverty. Some earn money by giving massage while some beg on the streets, he said.

Wigley said he visited the blind center every day and Ricor, most of the time, ran around unsupervised without any clothes on.
Worried that his stay in the Philippines would be ending on July 14, Wigley began a serious search for a suitable home for Ricor anywhere on Panay Island and approached maybe around 100 Catholic churches, the Mormons and Jesuits.

He also went almost daily to the Department of Social Welfare and Development office in Iloilo, begging for help. ‘I was desperate, I needed to find a home for Ricor before leaving the Philippines. I prayed to God for a miracle,’ he said.

Then one day in February, while he was at the DSWD again, a woman whom he did not know handed him an Inquirer newspaper clip about abused and abandoned children who found love at Calvary Chapel Children’s Home in Bacolod.

She had told him to contact the woman named Anna Balcells who was mentioned in the story. But Wigley did not even look at the woman in the eye as he was so frustrated and angry. He just stuck the article in his bag.

Four weeks ago, Wigley said he remembered to read the article and found the e-mail address of Balcells, president of the Kalipay Negrense Foundation Inc. (www.kalipaynegrense.org), which helps raise funds for the care of abused and abandoned children.

In an e-mail to Balcells dated May 6, Wigley wrote: ‘I am in search of a suitable home for an abandoned boy named Ricor de la Cruz. He is a very special child with autism and visual impairment. He has no family and is currently being looked after by a group of blind persons. As a result he is losing weight at an alarming rate and I worry immensely for his future. Can you help’ If your foundation does not cater for a boy like Ricor, do you have any contacts that may be able to help me find this boy a home’’

Home at last
Balcells said she was out of town and eventually got his
e-mail on May 13 and assured him that she would find a happy home for the boy.
She said she knew the Rosmarinos would be perfect for the child but did not want to burden them with another, knowing how many they already had to care for with limited resources.

So she contacted homes in Manila, but on May 24, while with Nanay Billy Rosmarino in Bacolod, she told her about Ricor.
‘I told Billy I did not want to burden her with another child knowing how many children Calvary already had, but needed her advise on where to place Ricor,’ Balcells said.

‘Right away, Billy wanted to know where Ricor was and by Monday she and a delegation from Calvary where in Iloilo checking on how he was,’ Balcells said.
On Tuesday, Billy Rosmarino, accompanied by Wigley, brought Ricor home to Calvary’his new home.

Balcells said that when the Rosmarinos saw Ricor, they were so excited and welcomed him like he was the very first child into their home.
‘Ricor has come to a home where he will have lots of love and care, the woman who handed the Inquirer article to Wigley so he could find me so I could lead him to Calvary must have been God’s angel,’ Balcells said.

Ricor just fits perfectly into their home, it was totally the Lord who brought him to them, Billy said.

Copyright 2012 Inquirer Visayas.


Inquirer Visayas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:52:00 11/27/2009
Filed Under: Children, Education

HELPING RAISE FUNDS TO KEEP THE Calvary Chapel Home going is the Kalipay Negrense Foundation, which helps homeless, malnourished, physically and sexually abused and out of school children.

Its president, Anna Balcells, said Kalipay also helps raise funds for scholarships of the children going to college.

We do our share to make sure that these beautiful homes for disadvantaged children never have to give up,' Balcells said.

If we don't break the chain of pain that these children are suffering, they can become future criminals. We have to take them away from the horrors that no child should ever have to experience and give them a new beginning in a home where they feel safe, they are protected and loved.?

Those interested in helping may contact Balcells or Kalipay vice president John Gayoso at 09173003595 or send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

A haven for kids

A haven for kids
By Carla Gomez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:14:00 02/28/2009

BACOLOD CITY - Her cousin had molested her, her mother was a drug addict and her father did not want to have anything to do with her.

Her older sister, the one person she loved, was taken by her mother to work in Manila.

Group tries to keep kids’ shelter open

Group tries to keep kids’ shelter open
By Carla P. Gomez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted: Friday, September 16th, 2011

BACOLOD CITY—Volunteer keepers of a shelter for abandoned and abused children in Bago City in Negros Occidental are scrimping after American donors in the United States pulled back when an economic recession struck the country in 2009.


A bigger refuge for abused children


Abused children now have a bigger home in Bacolod City, where they can seek refuge and hide from their abusers.
The Haven House’s two-story Kalipay Home has three big rooms with bathrooms that can accommodate at least 40 children, said Kalipay Negrense Foundation Inc. (KNFI) president Anna Balcells.

It also has a library-classroom for children who cannot go to school, a timeout room for those suffering from trauma who become violent, a kitchen, a living room, an office for social workers, a clinic and two rooms for volunteers who help take care of the children.

A wall has also been built around the property to keep the children safe.


“The new Haven is a gift to the disadvantaged and abused children of Negros Occidental and Bacolod,” Balcells said.


Hefty donation

The “gift” actually came from a Manila-based philanthropist, a friend of Balcells’, who decided to give a hefty donation upon hearing that the children’s old home at Fuentebella Subdivision in Bacolod had become run down and was being eaten by termites.

The old facility was purchased in 2007 with the help of another friend of Balcells’, Elizabeth Sy, a daughter of taipan Henry Sy of the SM Group of Companies. The property was also bought with Sy’s donation.
The Haven House was originally located in a rented house in Bacolod in early 2000. It was run by American social worker Philip Seckler, 75, and his wife, Cecilia Garcia, a native of Negros Occidental, using their pension from the United States.


Permanent home

But the Seckler couple were running out of money and food for the children.

Balcells then decided to gather her friends and put up the KNFI to help the Secklers buy a permanent home for the children they were caring for. A two-story wooden house was bought in Fuentebella Subdivision.

Kalipay was created to accept donations that were coming in for the Haven, Balcells said. It took over the management of Haven House last year as the Secklers were set to retire this month.

Another facility, the Recovered Treasures’ Kalipay Home, was set up n Bago City, also in Negros Occidental. Both Haven and Recovered Treasures are run by full-time house parents and staff.

When Kalipay started helping Haven in 2007, there were only 18 children. Now, it had grown to 30. The building can no longer accommodate that number and had been deteriorating and infested by termites.

In March last year, Balcells said she was talking to a friend, Miguel Bonet, Kalipay’s ambassador to Spain, about the need to raise funds to build a new house for Haven. Their conversation was overheard by her philanthropist friend.
“The next day, she (philanthropist) came to me and said ‘I want you to build that house.’ And I said: ‘But how, I don’t have the money,’” Balcells said.

Her philanthropist friend, who didn’t want to be identified, told Balcells that she would give money to build a bigger facility. The old house was then torn down to give way to a bigger and better home.

While the facility was being constructed, the children stayed in a rented house on Lizares Avenue. They will move in to their new home on April 1.


Children in need

“We want to put notices out that if a child is being beaten up and hurt, we can take them in at Haven,” Balcells said. A room separate from the main house will be used by social workers to assess and care for children needing help.

“This new house is well thought out with the intention of being a refuge. We hear a lot of stories of children who are abused and don’t know where to run to hide and seek help. We want to be that place for them,” Balcells said.

At the same time, she is asking financial help so the KNFI can sustain at least the monthly needs of the home that cost about P150,000, which covers food, medicine, clothing and the education of the children.

Those interested in helping Kalipay may call 0917-7002345 or 709-1215, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


By Carla P. Gomez
Inquirer Visayas

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