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In Focus: Jerome Pacua

We first met Jerome, a 14 year old boy, at his home in Ligao City last March. It was a poor and humble abode made of rough cinderblock and native materials – bamboo with a thatched roof. Jerome, then completely paralyzed, was lying on a mat (banig) placed over a wooden palette. The room was dark and damp with only rays of light piercing the darkness.

The ventilation was poor with the odor of burning firewood in the air. To me the atmosphere was depressing and suffocating. Enigmatically, Jerome, a healthy lad only last December had, over a period of three months, rapidly deteriorated in health to the point of becoming completely paralyzed. His family, poor and not knowing how to care for him, did the best they could to assist him. Little by little, people had led us to Jerome – like the physical therapist Alfred and Jemson, a former resident of Harong kan Sagrada Familia living in Ligao. Upon seeing Jerome’s condition, we decided to take him in immediately.

Initially the road was not easy: Jerome suffered from chronic low grade fevers and the cause of his paralysis baffled doctors. He might have damage his spinal cord through carrying bundles of wood or, perhaps, a cyst or tumor discovered around his around spinal cord had weakened him. It was hard to say.

Since Jerome had come to Harong kan Sagrada Familia last March, he has made remarkable progress – surprising everybody, even the doctors. We now believe that his condition was caused by tuberculosis invading the nerve endings of the spinal cord (“Potts’s disease”). Jerome is now able to stand for a half minute with the aid of the physical therapists. He is regaining his strength and ability to move his limbs even pushing himself easily in the wheelchair. Slowly he is moving from a wheelchair to a walker. Everyday he is being intensely treated for TB and is receiving physical therapy. He is now a very happy, smiling boy growing stronger each day in mind, heart, and body.

It is plausible to say that Jerome might not have survived if people had not had eyes and hearts open to him. Like the streaks of light piercing his dark, damp room in March, hope pierced through the darkness of his life. This hope began with two people seeing him and speaking up on his behalf. This hope continued with a group of people collaborating for his benefit. This hope continues with the love and friendship of family and new friends. Jerome still has a long road to go with much work ahead of him. Yet hope continues for him through the Guanellian mission of compassion and respect for the human person. Thank you, dear readers, for being a part of this mission and a part of Jerome’s continuous hope.

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