In mem­ory of Sandy

Draw­ing from her in­tense pain, this mother reaches out to com­mu­ni­ties so that no mother will lose her child to dengue again

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By PEACHES ARANAS

It was Fe­bru­ary 2013 when my only daugh­ter Sandy caught dengue and un­ex­pect­edly passed away seven days later. She was only 10 years old. It was a tragedy I vowed no other par­ent or child should suf­fer, so later that year I launched The Sandy Project. It’s a self-funded ad­vo­cacy that I hope would help bring down the dengue men­ace and bring honor to the mem­ory of my unica

hija. When she passed away, it re­ally broke our hearts, and broke our whole fam­ily. We didn’t know what hit us. So as a way to cope, I thought of do­ing some­thing to leave a legacy for Sandy, so her life would not have been for naught.

The Sandy Project is a gift that I want to give to fa­thers, moth­ers, and sib­lings who can lose a loved one to dengue.

Three years later, I feel like I have not even touched the sur­face of the pain of los­ing my daugh­ter. I told my­self, “I have to do some­thing.” I needed to find a way to re­lease this pain some­how. Imag­ine, one sec­ond was all it took. One sec­ond for that mos­quito to in­fect my daugh­ter, for me to lose her. That re­al­iza­tion is not easy. One sec­ond changed our lives for­ever. That’s how dan­ger­ous dengue is, and yet we took it for granted, and so many still do not take it se­ri­ously.

WORK­ING TO FIGHT THE LOSS OF AN­OTHER SANDY

To­gether with part­ners from the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor, the Sandy Project goes to schools and lo­cal­i­ties and ed­u­cates chil­dren and par­ents on the im­por­tance of pre­vent­ing and pro­tect­ing against the deadly dengue virus, which is car­ried by mos­qui­tos.

The cam­paign pro­vides chil­dren and its ben­e­fi­cia­ries with anti-mos­quito sprays and lo­tions, mos­quito nets and other anti-in­sect medicine and equip­ment, and teaches chil­dren about dengue through games, songs, dances, and books that are also given away to com­mu­ni­ties to aid their dengue ed­u­ca­tion ef­forts.

The Sandy Project is cur­rently self-funded, mainly from my pri­vate law prac­tice (LMA Law Of­fice), but I’m still cur­rently look­ing for pub­lic and cor­po­rate part­ners. I have raised funds by sell­ing a va­ri­ety of mer­chan­dise and, in time, will ac­cept do­na­tions from in­di­vid­u­als or groups.

This project has brought me to two com­mu­ni­ties so far, in Ba­colod City and Brgy. Loy­ola Heights in Que­zon City last Oc­to­ber. I have joined other anti-dengue cam­paigns and out­reach pro­grams. I went to Al­bay to join a sim­i­lar group that do­nated rain­coats and mos­quito re­pel­lent.

I have been ac­tive in dengue drives, in the hopes that no mother will lose an­other Sandy again. The point of this en­deavor is to raise aware­ness in kids’ them­selves.

I have so far spent my own money, but for this project to be big­ger, I will soon start look­ing for more part­ners from both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors so I could go to more sites around the coun­try. I will soon ac­cept do­na­tions in cash or in kind, like mos­quito nets, in­sect re­pel­lent, ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als on dengue, venues to hold their cam­paigns in, any­thing to help ad­vance the cause of dengue aware­ness and pre­ven­tion.

I share Sandy’s life story and our hor­ri­ble week­long ex­pe­ri­ence of fight­ing this virus with the chil­dren, in the hope that they will cru­sade with me in fight­ing dengue and sav­ing lives.

It is also our fam­ily’s gift to Sandy to honor her short life with a legacy that speaks of pur­pose and hope. And it is my hum­ble gift to God, in thanks­giv­ing, for the bless­ing of 10 years with a beau­ti­ful daugh­ter. It is a re­minder that we are but stew­ards on this earth.

To God be All Glory.

I feel like I have not even touched the sur­face of the pain of los­ing my daugh­ter. I told my­self, ‘I have to do some­thing.’ I needed to find a way to re­lease this pain some­how. Imag­ine, one sec­ond was all it took. One sec­ond for that mos­quito to in­fect my daugh­ter, for me to lose her.

LET'S NOT LOSE AN­OTHER SANDY To honor the mem­ory of Sandy, a 10year-old girl who lost her life to dengue, her mom cre­ated The Sandy Project. It is a self-funded ad­vo­cacy to help stop and bring down the dengue menance spe­cially to poor com­mu­ni­ties.

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