Philippine Self-Help Foundation


Alfreda looked like she was at death’s door when I first saw her 10 years ago. She was first seen by PSHF Director Richard Foster at the paediatric ward of the provincial hospital in Bacolod city where the PSHF has an office. Richard was most concerned because Alfreda vomited any food which she ate. I was not able to meet Alfreda and her mother Dolores when I visited the provincial hospital a few days later because they had already left. Dolores had no money to pay for a 2D-echo test for Alfreda and as the ward was crowded at the time, she decided to to bring Alfreda to Manapla where one of her children live. However a few days later, Alfreda had difficulty to breathe and so Dolores took her to the nearest hospital which was the old Silay General Hospital and that was where I found them a week or so later.

They - Alfreda on the lap of her brother Bongbong, and her mother Dolores, were seated on one of the pews inside the chapel of the hospital, looking very sad. Alfreda was skin and bones, was very weak and looked much older than her chronological age of 9 years old. She could not talk, walk nor sit on her own and so Bongbong had to carry her everywhere she went. It was almost a hopeless situation and I was at a loss of what to do. As we were inside the chapel, I decided to pray for her.

Dolores then told me about the need for a 2D echo test and I said that the PSHF might be able to help. This test would take place a month or so later and by then Alfreda was looking a lot better, a far cry from her appearance the first time I saw her.

Back to Dolores, I told that I would come back the next day to talk to the doctor. Carrying Alfreda on her arms, she walked me to the gate of the hospital. We happened to pass by some vendors who were selling oranges, mangoes, hotdogs and marshmallows. I got Alfreda a hotdog sandwich and she immediately took a big bite! I also got her a big piece of mango and Dolores told me the following day that she (Alfreda) ate the entire piece without vomiting at all. That was a big turning point in Alfreda’s illness story.

In March 2013, she finished her elementary schooling and PSHF Director Richard Foster was there to witness this significant event. Until last year, Alfreda had been lapping life. She even landed a job in a small candy factory where she wrapped milk candies.

When Alfreda was fist diagnosed with RHD (rheumatic heart disease) in January 2015, her doctor’s prognosis was good, i. e., she could get better and live an almost normal life but that there was also a chance for her to suffer from it again. A few months ago, she began experiencing RHD symptoms again - difficulty in breathing, loss of appetite, etc. Her mother has come back to ask for help.  

Alfreda at the PSHF-Bacolod Guest Room