A new leg and
renewed hope for a single father in Mindanao
arrived at the DJF office. He learned about the foundation
through the ICRC's social media page. (Photo: M. Lucero/ICRC)
June 6, 2022
MAKATI CITY – “My
heart is crushed each time my children ask for something that I
cannot provide because of my disability,” says Ricardo Tapican.
In July 2019, Ricardo
Tapican lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident. “I was riding
home with my cousin and nephew after a long day at work when the
brakes of my motorcycle failed,” he recalls.
Although his relatives,
who were riding pillion, emerged unscathed from the accident,
Ricardo suffered severe injuries in his right leg. “I thought I was
going to die. On regaining consciousness, my first thoughts were of
my children. I told my nephew to take care of them if anything were
to happen to me,” says the 34-year-old single father of three.
The doctors told Ricardo
that the severity of his injuries had left them no choice but to
amputate his leg. To this day, Ricardo cannot believe what happened
to him. “It’s been three years since the accident and I still cannot
fully accept what happened. My disability has made life very
difficult for me as a single father. I feel that the accident took a
big part of me. I can no longer provide for my children,” says
Ricardo, who is from Agusan del Sur in Mindanao.
The loss of his right leg
made it difficult for him to land a stable, well-paying job. And the
money he earned from odd jobs wasn’t enough to support his children,
forcing him to send them to live with their mother and other
relatives. It was a heart-breaking decision and not one that he
wanted for his kids.
“My children are only 13,
12 and 9 years old. I could not take care of them on my own,
especially with no stable income. I tried, but no one would hire me
after knowing about my disability,” says Ricardo.
He tried to go back to his
old job as a rubber tapper, but the once enjoyable job became an
intensely challenging task with only one leg. “The uneven and
sometimes muddy terrain made it difficult to move around with
crutches. Several times I lost my balance and fell to the ground,”
But Ricardo is not giving
up. He wants his children to finish school because he knows that an
education will open many doors for them in the future.
“I had made a promise to
myself not to neglect or let my children suffer just because their
mother and I separated. When I was still a student, I didn’t take my
education seriously; I want my children to finish school and not end
up like me,” says Ricardo.
Determined to get his life
back on track, Ricardo realized he needed an artificial leg. Three
years after his motorcycle accident and following months of
research, Ricardo came across the Facebook pages of the non-profit
foundation Davao Jubilee Foundation (DJF) and the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which supports the DJF. He
learned about DJF’s rehabilitation work with disabled people in
Ricardo travelled from his
hometown, San Francisco in Agusan del Sur, to DJF’s Davao City
office where, after an evaluation by the DJF staff, he was declared
eligible to receive a prosthesis. Ricardo felt that God had finally
answered his prayers.
“As a father and padre de
pamilya [head of the family], I don’t want to depend on others to
provide for my family. I can’t wait to complete my physical
rehabilitation programme here at DJF and look for a decent job,” he
rehabilitation journey started on 29 March 2022. The DJF provided
him with a physical rehabilitation programme, including a
custom-made prosthesis. He also received unconditional cash grants
from the ICRC to meet his family’s basic needs.
“I was in disbelief when I
first heard that I’d be given a new leg. It felt like a dream. But
after arriving at DJF, the reality of what is happening started to
sink in, that my dream of walking on two legs again is about to come
true,” says Ricardo.
About Davao Jubilee
DJF is a non-governmental
organization located in Davao City, Philippines, that provides a
variety of physical rehabilitation services to disabled people and
people in need of supportive braces, wheelchairs, artificial limbs
or other mobility support devices. The DJF helps all disabled
Filipinos, wherever they may be.
rehabilitation services include physical therapy, custom
manufacturing of artificial limbs, providing orthosis wheelchairs
and mental health and psychosocial (MHPSS) counselling for disabled
people. The ICRC’s close partnership with DJF has improved disabled
people’s access to comprehensive and high-quality physical
rehabilitation services, mitigating the challenging circumstances
they face in the Philippines. The ICRC also supports the
socio-economic needs of vulnerable DJF beneficiaries.
For more details, please
contact Davao Jubilee Foundation at 0975-781-7514 or message them
directly on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DavaoJubileeFoundation).