BACOLOD CITY—Fifteen-year-old Moses could hardly stop smiling. He enjoyed the games so much during a picnic with 180 other children at Calvary Chapel Home in Barangay Handumanan, Bacolod City, in celebration of Philippine-American Friendship Day on July 4.
Moses suffers from cerebral palsy. He uses a wheelchair, but this didn’t stop him from joining the games with others also in wheelchairs. During the egg relay, they sped across the playground in wheelchairs pushed by teammates.
Later, they were served a hearty meal capped by homemade cupcakes in the colors of the American and Philippine flags. At night, it was a treat of ice cream made from fresh milk from cows at the Calvary barn.
Pastor Joe Rosmarino and his wife, Billie, both American missionaries, run the Calvary, a home for abandoned, orphaned and abused children, as well as those with special needs. They went ahead with the Fourth of July festivities because they didn’t want the children to miss out on the event due to their current financial woes.
The facility needs to build additional structures for children with special needs to comply with new requirements set by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
The Rosmarinos do not put the children up for adoption but raise them until they are ready to go out on their own. Many have become nurses, teachers and social workers.
Moses was abandoned by his mother, a commercial sex worker and drug addict, after he was born at Pablo O. Torre Memorial Hospital in Bacolod City. He weighed only 2 lbs when the Rosmarino couple took him home.
Moses was later found to be suffering from cerebral palsy. He is now 15 and remains in a wheelchair, but almost always has a smile on his face.
Other children with special needs have been turned over to the Calvary from orphanages in other parts of the country because these are not capable of looking after them.
Miranda, 12, used to live at Rainbow Village in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, where children are put up for adoption. But no one wants to adopt the girl because she has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
Jillian, 4, who has the same condition, was turned over to the Calvary by CRIBS Foundation in Manila.
Billie Rosmarino found Jeremiah after learning about him from a saleslady in Bacolod when she was buying shirts for the children. The woman talked about a boy in her neighborhood who would spend the days crawling on the dirt ground where chickens would sometimes pass by and peck his head.
Jeremiah, 9, also has cerebral palsy. His parents did not want to take care of him so they turned him over to the Calvary.
The Rosmarinos came to the Philippines from the United States in 1988. With their family inheritance, they bought a 1.4-hectare sugarcane farm in Barangay Handumanan in 1992 and turned it into Calvary Chapel Home.
Through the years, they have taken care of 482 children. At present, 180 are staying at the Calvary, 40 of them with special needs.
The Calvary also runs elementary and secondary schools for the children.
Lately, it has been going through difficult times since donations from Americans have dropped in the wake of the economic recession in the United States. To address their food needs, the Rosmarinos and the children raise cows, chickens, ducks and goats, and grow vegetables organically. They also bake their own bread.
Still, these efforts are not enough. Despite the hardships, the Rosmarinos do not go around asking for donations. People, who have learned about their work with the children, are simply touched and help.
“We have no fixed sources of income. We walk on faith. We pray and the Lord provides,” Billie said.
“God supplies us with our needs. He touches the hearts of people who help us,” she added.
But Calvary Chapel Home is facing another challenge: where to find the P1 million needed to comply with the new requirements set by the BFP.
It had been told to build three more units for the children in wheelchairs and babies, and to expand the dining room which, the fire department said, was too small for so many children.
New ramps, fire escapes and five new doors must also be installed.
“All these will cost a lot of money when we are barely getting by each month,” Billie said.
Having survived on faith for years, the Rosmarinos and the children have turned to prayers— like they usually do—to hurdle the daunting task ahead.
“We trust the Lord and cling to his promises, knowing God is in control. Nothing is a surprise or impossible to him. He has a plan,” Billie and Joe wrote in their latest update on the Calvary.
“We know God has brought us this far, we know the Lord will see us through. Please pray with us that God will provide,” they added.