The practice of wearing face masks might seem new in the U.S., but not to children at Everlasting HOPE, a nonprofit ministry serving children with cancer and their families in Cebu, Philippines.
The ministry was founded by Kristina Andersen, a nurse from the Seattle area. It has provided 400 children and their families with patient advocacy and referrals, medical resources, temporary shelter, transportation, home and hospital visitation, and emotional and spiritual care.
The Everlasting HOPE Center is a respite home-away-from-home for children and their families while children undergo medical care in Cebu. The ministry relies on donations to provide their services free of charge, as many families come from nearby islands and leave behind jobs and income.
Andersen made her first trip to the Philippines in 2008 on a Christian missionary trip. Over the years, she was troubled that many families in medical crises could not provide proper care to their children.
“We saw patients being denied admittance to private hospitals without large deposits,” she said, while public hospitals required that families purchase supplies and medicines prior to admission. Some could not afford transportation costs to the hospital.
“Others were terrified of what they might find out if they went to the hospital, so they avoided going altogether,” Andersen said. “This was creating huge barriers to proper medical care for our children in the Philippines. We witnessed many children dying unnecessarily; leaving families in desperate situations and without a hope.”
She was moved to start Everlasting HOPE after her volunteer team helped John Ryan, a 10-year-old boy who passed away just four months after his cancer diagnosis. His family lacked both money and support systems.
“We were able to connect them to various agencies that assisted them with finances, medicines, and medical resources,” Andersen said. “We also connected him to his medical care team and coordinated a home visit by his doctor.”
Beyond that, “we began to see the great need of this family to have someone walk alongside them and to support them, not just financially but also emotionally and spiritually. They needed someone to advocate for them and to help connect them to various agencies that would provide the resources and financial needs that they had.”
To learn more about Everlasting HOPE, including ways to partner with the ministry, go to
www.everlastinghope.org or search for Everlasting Hope Childrens Cancer Mission on Facebook.
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