Our Lady of the Star Nursery
Hansen’s Disease is most prevalent in poor countries
Our Lady of the Star Nursery sits on a quiet two-lane street among neighboring houses, small schools and family-owned businesses in the Philippines fourth largest city. This preschool was once part of a much larger complex known as the Tala Estate which was established in the 1940s to treat families suffering from Hansen’s Disease (leprosy).
Little was known about this disease and myths of losing fingers and other disfigurements forced the afflicted into isolation. At its peak over 8,000 patients lived there. Today this disease is curable if caught early in life and the number of cases reported each year is declining.
Leprosy is one of the world’s most stigmatized diseases
Currently all the young children, staff members and volunteers are descendants of the original Hansenites who lived in Tala. Most of the parents have recovered from leprosy but their disfigurements and disabilities are evident. Skin lesions and scars mar their faces and arms. Nerve damage has compromised their motor functions affecting their ability to blink, grasp objects, move their fingers and even walk. Their ability to provide and care for their children is greatly diminished. An even greater tragedy is that their children now live under the stigmatized cloud of leprosy. They are often denied basic human rights and discriminated against.
Forced into a life of poverty, these families live in crowded living quarters that lack proper sanitation, ventilation and clean water. This is the perfect formula for fever, intestinal worms and infections. Airborne bacteria closely related to leprosy has also caused an alarming rise in childhood tuberculosis that kills thousands of children each year.
Our Lady of the Star Nursery cares for 300 children
Each day 300 boys and girls ages three to six attend Our Lady of the Star Nursery to receive nutritious meals, medical care and a preschool education. Their parents find great comfort in the preschool. It eases their daily struggles, assists with their children’s health and gives them hope for a brighter future. The children are given a chance for the most fundamental element in life, dignity.
Two major programs create the formula for their success
The first and largest program helps 300 children in these areas:
- The feeding program combats malnutrition by serving two nutritious meals per day Monday through Friday.
- Medical care is provided by volunteer doctors at Quirino Memorial Medical Center. They offer monthly check-ups and discounts on prescriptions for immunizations, antibiotics and vitamins. Last year over 200 children received medical treatment there for intestinal parasites, diarrhea, upper respiratory tract infections and childhood tuberculosis. Medical records are kept for each child and are available for the parents to ensure that good health follows them.
- Preschool education prepares the children for primary school. Home visitations are made by the staff for families with special needs children.
Young adults rise above the stigma of Hansen’s Disease
The second program is the Tala Scholarship Program for 50 young adults ages 17 to 25. It gives them an opportunity to learn a trade.
- They can enroll in automotive mechanic or electronic technician training programs at Don Bosco Technical Institute.
- Scholarships are given to these young adults who have experienced the disease themselves or are descendants of the original Hansenites. In exchange they are required to assist with various responsibilities at the preschool such as cooking, cleaning the classrooms and gardening.
- The young adults are also required to volunteer every Saturday at Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital where 1,800 Hansen patients are currently being treated. They visit with the patients and assist them with cleaning their rooms, making their beds, washing their clothes and listening to their stories.
Parents participate in their children’s care
- The Community Service Counterpart Program gives parents a chance to contribute to the preschool in non-financial ways such as cooking, cleaning, tending to the garden and assisting teachers with classroom activities.
- Home health and hygiene programs are also provided for the parents because most of the childhood diseases come from preparing food with dirty water and unwashed hands.
Emil is one of the many stories from frailty to health
Emil is the only child of Edmar and Angelita and is seven years old. Both of his parents survived Hansen’s Disease but face discrimination and are unable to find work. His mother cannot read or write and doesn’t often leave their home.
Emil’s parents enrolled him in Our Lady of the Star Nursery when he was three. He arrived weak and malnourished, was stricken with tuberculosis and cried all the time.
Since coming to the preschool Emil has gained weight, undergone a six-month treatment for childhood tuberculosis and has gradually regained his health. Today Emil is a healthy and active child. He is one of the lucky ones, because he received medical care and nutritious meals which nursed him back to health.
What does your financial support mean?
The program for 300 children at Our Lady of the Star Nursery is run by dedicated staff members and parent volunteers. Your support ensures that each child will continue to receive the loving care they need.
The young adults will continue to receive skills training that will enable them to get jobs, help support their families and break the cycle of poverty that they have been trapped in for generations.
Medical care means survival for 300 young children
- $1,000 per month covers the cost of medicine
- $100 per month provides x-rays, urinalysis and necessary tests
- $100 per month ensures that each child receives annual immunizations and quarterly deworming
Proper nutrition builds strong bodies to help fight diseases
- $2,250 per month provides 300 children two nutritious meals each day
- $1,500 per month feeds 200 children
- $750 per month feeds 100 children
- $250 per month ensures that each child receives vitamin supplements
Early education creates a foundation for successful learning
- $1,000 per month pays the salaries of the preschool teachers
- $200 per month provides the children with school supplies, books and more
The entire Tala community benefits
- The preschool provides everyone in the community with referrals to health centers, assistance with first aid and emergency medical care.
- Public health programs that address hygiene are available for the entire community.
- The scholarship program for vocational skills training enables young adults to get jobs which improves their quality of life.
You can be a part of these children’s dreams
With your financial support these children will continue to receive two meals per day, medical care and an education. Without your help the cycle of poverty will continue.
All Children, Inc. is a 501(c)3 global nonprofit organization that protects, empowers and advocates for at-risk children living in extreme poverty. Our main objective is to provide medical care, nutrition, education and shelter with attention to children with mental and physical disabilities.
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