A group of supporters of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte based in the United Kingdom became the latest benefactor of the House of Hope Foundation for Kids with Cancer, Inc. in Davao City.
In partnership with the House of Hope, the UK-Duterte Diehard Supporters (UK-DDS) have poured in their resources to build a major project they called “Tatay Digong-Inspired Library and Sensory Room” inside the compound of the Southern Mindanao Medical Center.
“We have been helping them (House of Hope) for the last two years and then, we came up with this major project that the main beneficiaries are the kids with cancer,” UK-DDS chairperson Moe Wicks said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.
Wicks said their group decided to choose House of Hope as beneficiary of the library and sensory room since it is the same foundation that Duterte has been helping even when he was still mayor of Davao City.
“What we want is for the people to recognize what President Duterte is doing, what he did for us — his influence to us, how he inspired us and we want to thank him because we knew that he will be happy with this project because the kids there are like his babies,” she said.
Duterte used to visit House of Hope when he was still mayor of Davao City and in December 2016, he returned as President to personally give Christmas gifts to children with cancer.
“These children with cancer are the reasons why we are here. They’ve opened our hearts and we wanted to make this project to be part of the legacy of President Duterte because we all know that he will not be there as President forever,” Wicks said.
While Duterte failed to attend the inauguration of the Tatay Digong-Inspired Library and Sensory Room on August 16 due to his hectic schedule, Wicks said the group remains thankful for meeting the President through the help of Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go three days after the inauguration.
“We thank SAP Go because we were able to meet the President. President Duterte was very humble because we wanted him to realize that it was him who inspired us to do this project. But he told us: ‘You don’t give loyalty to me but to the people,” Wicks said.
Wicks, who works as physiotherapist in London, said the sensory lights accompanied with relaxing music are widely-used in UK as part of the healing process – especially for kids with cancer and other illnesses.
“It is research-based and proven that can help in the healing process for the kids. It is a lifetime project where the kids will benefit,” Wicks said.
“The sensory lights will help the kids a lot right after the chemo because the room is very relaxing when lights and music are on. They can see beaches, butterflies. It’s like magical kingdoms. All they can see is positive which can help in their healing process,” she explained.
She said they have to import the sensory equipment particularly the sensory lights from UK “because these are not available in the Philippines”.
“We did a lot of sacrifices just to put up this kind of major project. I left my family in UK just to be here because we drew inspiration from hard work that our President has been doing for our country,” Wicks said.
Wicks said different kinds of books, including sensory books, will also be enjoyed by children while watching sensory lights and listening to music after their chemotherapy treatment.
Aside from the Tatay Digong Inspired Library and Sensory Room, the UK-DDS has been involved in various charity works, particularly for victims of the Marawi conflict for the past two years.
“What really happened is that Duterte was the one who inspired us to become good citizens of our country and to share what we have because before I don’t give much care about patriotism,” she said.
She encouraged other Filipinos working abroad to also serve as inspiration to every Filipino particularly “our unfortunate countrymen”.
“Our aim is to become (an) inspiration also to our ‘kababayans’ abroad that actually they can help in so many ways,” she added.
Wicks thanked all the project’s sponsors for their generosity as well as the House of Hope officials for choosing them as one of their partners in helping children with cancer.
She also extended appreciation to architect Gail Zilmar-Cuartory for the perfect design of the sensory room.