Helping hands with the Ruel Foundation

TREATMENT JOURNEY: Angela Paton is pictured with caregiver Marie and a baby after eye and cleft palate surgery at Oriental Mindoro Public Hospital in early December last year.
PHOTO TIME AT RUEL HOUSE: From left, Joyce O’Donnell, Julia Gould and Angela Paton with some of the children.
Craft session: Here the children get busy doing craft taught by Julia Gould.
MAKING THINGS: Lego is a favourite activity for the children.
NICE SPECS: One of the children who has since been adopted wearing glasses she made from coconut palm leaves at Ruel House.
From left, Joyce, Pauline and Angela enjoy a pina colada at a seaside resort near Calapan.

GISBORNE women Angela Paton and Julia Gould flew to the Philippines in November 2017 to volunteer at an orphanage in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro run by the Ruel Foundation.

“We arrived in Manila to be engulfed by a blast of hot air as soon as we stepped out of the terminal,” says Julia, a social worker, who decided she had selectively forgotten how hot it was in Asia.

“Manila is a cacophony of traffic tooting and manoeuvring between lanes and vehicles; rush hour is apparently every hour. The roadside is lined with street hawkers and run-down shop frontages, with billboards and garbage everywhere.”

After a night at a hotel, they caught a bus to Batangas and then a one-and-a-half-hour ferry ride to Calapan City, where New Zealander Pauline Curtis-Smith was waiting to meet them.

Pauline went to the Philippines in 2003 with her husband Warren as part of a Youth with a Mission team overseen by David Cowie, also a New Zealander.

The Ruel Foundation had its beginnings when David visited a local hospital in 1999 and found a severely emaciated young boy, riddled with virus and infection, with a double cleft lip and palate. His name was Ruel.

David funded the necessary surgery and supplements for Ruel to begin his journey towards a full recovery.

A few years later Pauline was on a medical outreach to a Mangyan village.

The Mangyan people are a hill tribe native to Oriental Mindoro who live a subsistence lifestyle without many health, hygiene, education and monetary resources.

There she found Ryan, very sick and close to death, and neglected by his family. She took him into her care and arranged the necessary medical attention. Ryan was later to be adopted by Pauline and her husband and is now a healthy, happy 14 year old.

Pauline went on to find other abandoned children and, with David’s support, the Ruel Foundation was established.

Once funds were raised, the foundation bought a house in Calapan City. Later they purchased the adjoining property and built a 50-bed orphanage called Ruel House.

Ruel Foundation’s mission is to bring the love of Christ to some of the most impoverished children in the world, bringing them health, healing and improved quality of life.

It does this by seeking out overlooked children with treatable medical conditions and physical deformities. The foundation provides them, and their families, with free surgeries, medical care, education and the life-saving message of Christ.

“Children are taken from lives of poverty and rejection and transformed into valued, loved and accepted members of society.”

GISBORNE CONNECTIONS

Gisborne couple John and Lyn Hawkesworth established an outreach in Fiji in 2009 under Ruel’s umbrella, facilitating the surgical treatment of children with physical deformities.

Susan Horsfall and Sue Matthews of Gisborne have both spent time at the orphanage volunteering.

Rob Daunton and his wife Lisa are the Fiji trustees of the Ruel Foundation and also reside in Gisborne.

A shared love for the Pacific Islands and Pacific Islanders led them to live and work in Fiji for a time. They have a passion for helping youth and those less fortunate.

VOLUNTEER WORK

Angela Paton and her husband John had spent two years working at Ruel House in 2012/13, she as a nurse, and John as a caretaker and maintenance man. They have made several further trips since then.

For a long time Julia had wanted to see and understand the work her friends were doing.

“Now here I was being welcomed by the warm, smiling faces of the many Filipina workers and happy children wanting cuddles from Angela. My month-long experience had begun!” she says.

There Julia met another volunteer from Gisborne, Joyce O’Donnell.

“For the next few weeks, Joyce and I helped out where we could and Angela slotted back into her staff position of nurse.

“This happened to be very timely as many of the babies caught viral pneumonia and had to hospitalised, so Angela’s nursing skills were invaluable.

“Joyce painted some wonderful murals on the walls of the nursery for the malnourished, and in the older girls’ bedroom. She also helped with homework reading.”

Julia took craft sessions, teaching cross-stitch, and worked on scrapbooks that accompany the children when they are internationally adopted.

“We both helped mind an autistic boy, who loved to be outside and had a fascination with water; it was very hard to stop him drinking out of the puddles.”

Julia said there was a definite sense of love and care by the many paid Filipina primary caregivers.

“My fears of children being insecurely attached because of volunteer input abated.”

She said Pauline had an amazing vision which she had been able to bring into reality.

A centre for the malnourished has opened at the orphanage as well as a crisis centre on the island of Romblon, further to the south.

Despite the growing global awareness about the long-term affects of sexual abuse, it takes a long time to change the societal messages in more isolated communities.

“It is the children who suffer the huge shame and ongoing effects of such maltreatment,” said Julia.

“I was very impressed by the infrastructure and how well the children are cared for.

“I read through social work case files and was really taken with the high level of professionalism, note taking, background checks and data collection.”

A highlight for Pauline, Julia said, was getting approval from the government to place children for international adoption.

“The interaction with the Department of Social Welfare seems to work well and is very thorough about getting parental consent and not separating sibling groups.”

While they were at Ruel House a sibling group of three children, aged six, eight and 11, were awaiting the arrival of their new parents from the United States and another five year old for her parents from New Zealand.

Other countries from where families have adopted children include Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, France, Spain, Canada and Australia.

“What an amazing thing for these children, having been unwanted, unloved and neglected — or their family just unable to support them — to be given a new chance at a new life with parents and families who love them.”

LIFE AT THE ORPHANAGE

The daily routine at the orphanage starts with breakfast at seven.

“Often if I went over to the main building before this, there would be uplifting music wafting out of the upstairs bedrooms and nursery, and the chatter of children as they began a new day,” said Julia.

The younger children are divided into two groups, the preschoolers and the five-to-seven year olds who are just beginning their learning journey.

Although the children are mainly fluent in their native Tagalog language, all their lessons are in English, to prepare the majority of them for international adoption.

“We did find that in general most people in the Philippines have some understanding of English.”

A group of eight children were taught by Stephanie, from South Africa. She and her husband Mark — an American who had a Filipina mother — had committed a year to working at the orphanage, living nearby with their two young children Joshua and Luke.

They had now immigrated to Tauranga.

“There is a huge need for a teacher to take this group of children this year.”

Two of the older girls at Ruel House had just been enrolled in a private college thanks to a generous sponsor in New Zealand.

“We experienced the excitement of these two, getting new uniforms and school supplies and being amongst a wider peer group.

“There was to be a school dance the week after we left, so we left some money to buy them pretty dresses for the occasion.”

PNEUMONIA OUTBREAK

The outbreak of a serious strain of viral pneumonia during Julia’s time at the orphanage was frightening.

“Five young babies had to be hospitalised, one of them in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for eight days with a slim chance of survival. His survival was further compromised by there only being one respirator available at the hospital,” she said.

“The virus had affected hundreds of young babies in the area, so doctors and hospital staff were over-worked and exhausted.”

Luckily the orphanage was able to hire a respirator on a daily basis until this baby was out of danger.

“He is now back at the orphanage and doing well.”

Ruel House also had to pay staff wages to be with the babies, as it was a hospital requirement that each baby have a caregiver during their stay. This would usually be filled by parents, which was not possible for orphanage children.

“Angela’s skills were invaluable, assessing the medical needs of each baby and once accompanying a baby to hospital at 3am.

“This outbreak highlighted the need to have all babies immunised against pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis next year.”

Each dose of vaccination costs $150 and the children need three vaccinations, two months apart.

NEED FOR FINANCIAL BACKING AND VOLUNTEER SUPPORT

The pneumonia outbreak highlighted the huge costs involved in keeping such high-quality care available, Julia said.

The Ruel Foundation has a continual need for financial backing and volunteer support. Child sponsorships and donations can be arranged through its website: www.ruelfoundation.com

Funds are needed for the orphanage and for cleft lip/palate and eye operations.

“Operations are undertaken both in Manila and Mindoro Island, with experienced surgeons travelling down from the capital,” said Angela.

“One nine-month-old baby had a cleft lip repair and an eyelid reconstruction while we were there. He was blind in the other eye and will have to wait another six months before an artificial eye can be inserted.”

(He is pictured on the front page with a caregiver and Angela.)

“When he arrived back from Manila at the orphanage he caught viral pneumonia and had to be hospitalised yet again. But he was such a plucky little fighter, I imagine he will pull through all these hurdles that have plagued his young life.”

As a reward for all their hard work, the group of volunteers got to spend some down-time relaxing at the beach.

“We swam and snorkelled and enjoyed a few pina coladas too,” she said.

Angela has made an ongoing commitment to Ruel House and will return in March to help facilitate the vaccination programme. She has arranged to take over the lease of Stephanie and Mark’s apartment so she can have a retreat from the day-to-day workings of the orphanage.

There will be a fundraising event early this year to help towards the cost of the trip and accommodation. If you would like to be on Angela’s mailing list about this please contact her at angelapatonpower@gmail.com

GISBORNE women Angela Paton and Julia Gould flew to the Philippines in November 2017 to volunteer at an orphanage in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro run by the Ruel Foundation.

“We arrived in Manila to be engulfed by a blast of hot air as soon as we stepped out of the terminal,” says Julia, a social worker, who decided she had selectively forgotten how hot it was in Asia.

“Manila is a cacophony of traffic tooting and manoeuvring between lanes and vehicles; rush hour is apparently every hour. The roadside is lined with street hawkers and run-down shop frontages, with billboards and garbage everywhere.”

After a night at a hotel, they caught a bus to Batangas and then a one-and-a-half-hour ferry ride to Calapan City, where New Zealander Pauline Curtis-Smith was waiting to meet them.

Pauline went to the Philippines in 2003 with her husband Warren as part of a Youth with a Mission team overseen by David Cowie, also a New Zealander.

The Ruel Foundation had its beginnings when David visited a local hospital in 1999 and found a severely emaciated young boy, riddled with virus and infection, with a double cleft lip and palate. His name was Ruel.

David funded the necessary surgery and supplements for Ruel to begin his journey towards a full recovery.

A few years later Pauline was on a medical outreach to a Mangyan village.

The Mangyan people are a hill tribe native to Oriental Mindoro who live a subsistence lifestyle without many health, hygiene, education and monetary resources.

There she found Ryan, very sick and close to death, and neglected by his family. She took him into her care and arranged the necessary medical attention. Ryan was later to be adopted by Pauline and her husband and is now a healthy, happy 14 year old.

Pauline went on to find other abandoned children and, with David’s support, the Ruel Foundation was established.

Once funds were raised, the foundation bought a house in Calapan City. Later they purchased the adjoining property and built a 50-bed orphanage called Ruel House.

Ruel Foundation’s mission is to bring the love of Christ to some of the most impoverished children in the world, bringing them health, healing and improved quality of life.

It does this by seeking out overlooked children with treatable medical conditions and physical deformities. The foundation provides them, and their families, with free surgeries, medical care, education and the life-saving message of Christ.

“Children are taken from lives of poverty and rejection and transformed into valued, loved and accepted members of society.”

GISBORNE CONNECTIONS

Gisborne couple John and Lyn Hawkesworth established an outreach in Fiji in 2009 under Ruel’s umbrella, facilitating the surgical treatment of children with physical deformities.

Susan Horsfall and Sue Matthews of Gisborne have both spent time at the orphanage volunteering.

Rob Daunton and his wife Lisa are the Fiji trustees of the Ruel Foundation and also reside in Gisborne.

A shared love for the Pacific Islands and Pacific Islanders led them to live and work in Fiji for a time. They have a passion for helping youth and those less fortunate.

VOLUNTEER WORK

Angela Paton and her husband John had spent two years working at Ruel House in 2012/13, she as a nurse, and John as a caretaker and maintenance man. They have made several further trips since then.

For a long time Julia had wanted to see and understand the work her friends were doing.

“Now here I was being welcomed by the warm, smiling faces of the many Filipina workers and happy children wanting cuddles from Angela. My month-long experience had begun!” she says.

There Julia met another volunteer from Gisborne, Joyce O’Donnell.

“For the next few weeks, Joyce and I helped out where we could and Angela slotted back into her staff position of nurse.

“This happened to be very timely as many of the babies caught viral pneumonia and had to hospitalised, so Angela’s nursing skills were invaluable.

“Joyce painted some wonderful murals on the walls of the nursery for the malnourished, and in the older girls’ bedroom. She also helped with homework reading.”

Julia took craft sessions, teaching cross-stitch, and worked on scrapbooks that accompany the children when they are internationally adopted.

“We both helped mind an autistic boy, who loved to be outside and had a fascination with water; it was very hard to stop him drinking out of the puddles.”

Julia said there was a definite sense of love and care by the many paid Filipina primary caregivers.

“My fears of children being insecurely attached because of volunteer input abated.”

She said Pauline had an amazing vision which she had been able to bring into reality.

A centre for the malnourished has opened at the orphanage as well as a crisis centre on the island of Romblon, further to the south.

Despite the growing global awareness about the long-term affects of sexual abuse, it takes a long time to change the societal messages in more isolated communities.

“It is the children who suffer the huge shame and ongoing effects of such maltreatment,” said Julia.

“I was very impressed by the infrastructure and how well the children are cared for.

“I read through social work case files and was really taken with the high level of professionalism, note taking, background checks and data collection.”

A highlight for Pauline, Julia said, was getting approval from the government to place children for international adoption.

“The interaction with the Department of Social Welfare seems to work well and is very thorough about getting parental consent and not separating sibling groups.”

While they were at Ruel House a sibling group of three children, aged six, eight and 11, were awaiting the arrival of their new parents from the United States and another five year old for her parents from New Zealand.

Other countries from where families have adopted children include Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, France, Spain, Canada and Australia.

“What an amazing thing for these children, having been unwanted, unloved and neglected — or their family just unable to support them — to be given a new chance at a new life with parents and families who love them.”

LIFE AT THE ORPHANAGE

The daily routine at the orphanage starts with breakfast at seven.

“Often if I went over to the main building before this, there would be uplifting music wafting out of the upstairs bedrooms and nursery, and the chatter of children as they began a new day,” said Julia.

The younger children are divided into two groups, the preschoolers and the five-to-seven year olds who are just beginning their learning journey.

Although the children are mainly fluent in their native Tagalog language, all their lessons are in English, to prepare the majority of them for international adoption.

“We did find that in general most people in the Philippines have some understanding of English.”

A group of eight children were taught by Stephanie, from South Africa. She and her husband Mark — an American who had a Filipina mother — had committed a year to working at the orphanage, living nearby with their two young children Joshua and Luke.

They had now immigrated to Tauranga.

“There is a huge need for a teacher to take this group of children this year.”

Two of the older girls at Ruel House had just been enrolled in a private college thanks to a generous sponsor in New Zealand.

“We experienced the excitement of these two, getting new uniforms and school supplies and being amongst a wider peer group.

“There was to be a school dance the week after we left, so we left some money to buy them pretty dresses for the occasion.”

PNEUMONIA OUTBREAK

The outbreak of a serious strain of viral pneumonia during Julia’s time at the orphanage was frightening.

“Five young babies had to be hospitalised, one of them in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for eight days with a slim chance of survival. His survival was further compromised by there only being one respirator available at the hospital,” she said.

“The virus had affected hundreds of young babies in the area, so doctors and hospital staff were over-worked and exhausted.”

Luckily the orphanage was able to hire a respirator on a daily basis until this baby was out of danger.

“He is now back at the orphanage and doing well.”

Ruel House also had to pay staff wages to be with the babies, as it was a hospital requirement that each baby have a caregiver during their stay. This would usually be filled by parents, which was not possible for orphanage children.

“Angela’s skills were invaluable, assessing the medical needs of each baby and once accompanying a baby to hospital at 3am.

“This outbreak highlighted the need to have all babies immunised against pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis next year.”

Each dose of vaccination costs $150 and the children need three vaccinations, two months apart.

NEED FOR FINANCIAL BACKING AND VOLUNTEER SUPPORT

The pneumonia outbreak highlighted the huge costs involved in keeping such high-quality care available, Julia said.

The Ruel Foundation has a continual need for financial backing and volunteer support. Child sponsorships and donations can be arranged through its website: www.ruelfoundation.com

Funds are needed for the orphanage and for cleft lip/palate and eye operations.

“Operations are undertaken both in Manila and Mindoro Island, with experienced surgeons travelling down from the capital,” said Angela.

“One nine-month-old baby had a cleft lip repair and an eyelid reconstruction while we were there. He was blind in the other eye and will have to wait another six months before an artificial eye can be inserted.”

(He is pictured on the front page with a caregiver and Angela.)

“When he arrived back from Manila at the orphanage he caught viral pneumonia and had to be hospitalised yet again. But he was such a plucky little fighter, I imagine he will pull through all these hurdles that have plagued his young life.”

As a reward for all their hard work, the group of volunteers got to spend some down-time relaxing at the beach.

“We swam and snorkelled and enjoyed a few pina coladas too,” she said.

Angela has made an ongoing commitment to Ruel House and will return in March to help facilitate the vaccination programme. She has arranged to take over the lease of Stephanie and Mark’s apartment so she can have a retreat from the day-to-day workings of the orphanage.

There will be a fundraising event early this year to help towards the cost of the trip and accommodation. If you would like to be on Angela’s mailing list about this please contact her at angelapatonpower@gmail.com

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Christina - 5 months ago
What a beautiful, caring lot of people these kids have helping them have a future :) would love to help out too in any way I can :)

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