“PRAISE GOD, DUMATING NA!” (Thank God, help finally came!)
This is what Life Changing President Jane Sapico overheard in the morning of July 31 upon the arrival of the RCPE (Rotary Club of Pasay EDSA) team at the San Jose Balay Alima Foundation Home for the Elderly in Indang, Cavite.
Twenty-Seven years ago, Rosemarie Galea started taking care of elderly people from the streets. It was not in her plan to turn this into anything. She just believed that pity does not help anybody unless things are acted upon. From one elderly, she found herself overseeing nine to ten of them. The local government caught wind of this and she was alerted that these may have legal implications if they would not formally register.
On the brink of losing oversight of the elderly people, she coordinated with DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and established Balay Alima Foundation in 1994. Balay Alima is a Bisaya term that means “Bahay Kalinga” or “Home of Care”. The elders in their ward range from 60 to 95 years of age and have no known relatives who can take care of them. Some of them can no longer remember their names. When asked, they would give peculiar names, like names of famous celebrities.
Taking care of the lolos and lolas is not an easy task. The staffs wake up at 3:00AM to prepare for their breakfast. While giving the elders a bath, the staff would sometimes experience being physically hit. Occasionally, they would receive hurtful words from the elders. Despite that, they would just return a smile and continue on with taking care of them.
Rosemarie admits that there are days that she’s lazy to take care of the elders. Despite that, she still continues on as she has accepted the obligation to take care of them. Managing resources has also been very challenging, especially during this time of the pandemic. Savings have been exhausted. They’ve explored backyard farming but this takes time to grow and is not enough to sustain them.
After over 2 weeks of continuous rain in July, their resources have depleted with no donations in sight.
Despite the bad weather and the risk of contracting Covid, seven Rotarians from RCPE went to Cavite and bought sacks of rice, canned goods, medicines, adult diapers, milk, toiletries, face shields, face masks, and other provisions for the 30 elderly wards of Balay Alima. They also welcomed and partook with joy the packed lunches lovingly prepared by RCPE’s Charter President Armin Demetillo and wife Rotarian Jill. Providing able help to the RCPE Team were 2 young Rotaractors from the Rotaract Club of Trece Martires.
They say retirement is the longest vacation we’ll have in our lives. Fortunately for these elders, though they’ve been abandoned and left in the streets, Balay Alima took them under its wings.
You can be a blessing too by extending help to them and let the lolos’ and lola’s continue to have a place of refuge until they meet our Maker.
LCP Jane extends her gratitude for all the volunteers and donations. She said that, “Giving may have already been our usual response in and out of Rotary as we have all been blessed in so many ways. But hearing it with sincerity just gives a whole more meaning. For sure our donations may not last long but we definitely came at the right time.”.
LCP Mary Jane Sapico