A Home from Home at Leupapo Inc. in Mindanao
‘We don’t realise how strong we are until strong is the only choice we have’ – Those are the inspiring words of Mr. Clarabal, who runs Leupapo Inc; a home from home for kids from across Mindanao in the Philippines, helping them access free chemo at the local hospital.
With money he raises from his hard work and a growing network of supporters, he provides not just a home but community, education and even emotional support for the families.
More and more I am inspired by these every-day heroes that shatter the belief that you can’t change someone’s life without a large donation or a multitude of resources. It was truly a humbling and moving day to meet someone who despite having so little, chose to make their life a gift to others.
The story behind Leupapo Inc – Adapted from Jonathan D. Pineda’s article
As we look around, there is a small group of people whose days are often numbered. They are diagnosed with cancer yet in their plight, they remain undaunted. Rather than surrendering to despair and exorbitant medical treatments, they are still composed.
There is a man who has compassion and courage in providing the needs of young cancer patients. He is 41 year-old Recziel ‘Ondoy’ Clarabal. A man of immense generosity whose mantra is ‘you don’t have to be rich to give’. His big heart has opened the doors to shelter those from such suffering.
Moved by his own families’ journey when his son was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016. He moved his family near to Northern Mindanao Medical centre (the only place where free chemotherapy is available in the region). Between his son’s treatments, he initially found shelter for his family inside the Provincial Park, sleeping on benches under the trees.
Despite lacking resources, Ondoy strived to fix vehicles at night to earn money but was often reluctant to approach strangers for help. Eventually though, his reputation and story spread until he had worked enough to rent a small house and gain the shelter his family needed.
During hospital visits with his son, he made connections with other families and found many others in similar circumstances. Unable to bear the thought that others would suffer without shelter as he did, he soon opened his house for others to stay.
To help support the growing project, his wife sold fruit at the nearby Cogon Night Market and in 2017, Ondoy officially formed the organisation as its known today: Leupapo (Lukemia Patients and Parents Organisation).
Between September 2016 to January 2020, Leupapo has accommodated over 400 patients for various lengths of stay. Sadly, many patients do not recover and Ondoy even helps to buy plywood to build coffins that the parents could otherwise not afford to pay for.
Despite this, Leupapo Inc. remains a beacon of hope and a place where smiles and laughter fill each day. Ondoy’s selfless act of helping others despite his own struggle in life is an inspiration that there is an antidote to ones’ own suffering in turning that energy into positive good for others. A leap of faith from not knowing where their next meal is coming from to an organisation that has helped hundreds find comfort and a community in the most difficult of situations.