In 2017 Joanna received her Miracle sight-saving surgery thanks to the work of CBM Australia and supporters just like you! 3 years on we got an update from Joanna & her mother Frenil about the way there lives have changed.
Here is a heartfelt letter from Frenil, a mum in the Philippines whose 13 year old daughter received a Miracle thanks to someone giving on Miracles Day. The letter was written in July 2020.
“Our lives changed when my 13-year-old Joanna woke up three years ago without sight. It felt as though our family fell down really hard. But as a mother, I had to be strong for my family… for my daughter.
I walked her to school every day. I copied notes for her. I helped her eat, get dressed, and move around. I served as her eyes. I did it lovingly but our family also felt the difficulty of our situation. I have three kids and all of them are studying. My husband’s income was not enough and I could not work because I needed to be with my daughter all the time. We were in debt. We were all stressed.
Sometimes, I still cannot believe that a surgery, which was over so quick, turned things around for our family… for Joanna. God used the people who helped us as instruments to change our lives.
Joanna is now 16 years old. She will be in 11th grade this school year. She joins inter-school dance competitions and is a consistent honour student. She is now independent.
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For me, that means I can work and contribute to my family’s needs. As soon as Joanna healed from surgery, I started selling food in various schools. Along the way, I met people who became my loyal customers. I saved my earnings to buy other products to sell. Eventually, I made and sold frozen food products to different communities.
Today, we have converted a part of our house to a food business. We named it “3J’s Food House”. We have a small store – it’s ours…and I am thrilled! We sell flavoured shakes, French fries, and sio pao. Because of this pandemic, we started a delivery service. Joanna is in-charge of preparing the food orders while my husband and I take charge of the delivery.
You see, Joanna’s a good kid. When she went blind because of cataracts, she hid it from me in the beginning because she did not want me to worry. She did want to be a burden. Joanna always tells me, “I want to do well because I want to be a role model to my younger siblings.”
Three years ago, our lives were very different. Things looked up for us when Joanna had her surgery. We were all given the opportunity to pursue what we wanted to do. I will always be grateful to God for all the people who supported us through Miracles Day. You did not just give her sight back; you gave our family a fresh start.”
Image: Joanna working in their food business, and enjoying a good book.
Joanna’s Journey and Life Before Her Miracle
Joanna was like any 13-year-old in Australia – she loved cooking, sports and dancing. She was top of her grade six class and so motivated to learn to speak English that her favourite book was an English dictionary.
One day Joanna woke up in her small village in The Philippines and was devastated to discover she couldn’t read the numbers on her calendar next to her bed. Her eyesight continued to deteriorate during day. She kept this to herself for the entire day – she didn’t want to add to her Mum’s burdens. Her mother Frenil spent her days selling snacks by the road and at the local school – earning just enough to feed the family, and Joanna worried her mother couldn’t afford medical treatment.
When Joanna finally told her mum she couldn’t see, her mum took her to the local Doctor, who confirmed Joanna had developed cataracts from an undiagnosed case of type 1 diabetes. Faced with the need to buy expensive insulin to keep her daughter alive, her mum Frenil couldn’t also afford cataract surgery – and so Joanna remained blind for many months.
Although Joanna had graduated top of her class in primary school, when her new high school found out Joanna couldn’t see, they told Joanna she wouldn’t be able to attend. And so, Joanna stayed at home, her mum despairing about what to do, until she found out CBM and its partner in the Philippines would fund Joanna’s cataract surgeries.