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Girl with big dreams needs help

By Analou De Vera

Ayalisse "Aya" Cahira Cuales

Ayalisse “Aya” Cahira Cuales (Photo courtesy of Felson Cuales)

Just like most girls her age, five-year-old Ayalisse “Aya” Cahira Cuales has big dreams, among them becoming a doctor and a teacher at the same time.

Nothing wrong with that, of course, but for Aya, this could prove a challenge.

The bright young charmer was born with a parasitic twin, manifesting in her having two brains, four arms, and four legs.

Before Aya was born on Dec. 12, 2012 in Tagum City, Davao, her mother Jonavi was already informed of her condition but not once did she ever think of not having her.

“Sabi ng doktor milagro na lang kung mailabas ko si Aya. Kasi sa condition nya, hindi siya gumagalaw. One-sided lang siya, dahil sa paa niya hindi sya makaikot. Nakapalupot pa ‘yung cord niya. Sakto nailabas ko sya sa tamang buwan. Pero nag 50/50 din sya noon. Buti na revive din,” Jonavi shared.

Felson, who was then in Australia working as a butcher, was kept in the dark about his daughter’s condition.

“Ang pagkakaalam ko may diperensya lang. Akala ko may umusli lang (sa kamay). Nung nakita ko siya sa Skype, na-shock ako,” said Felson.

The 36-year-old said he immediately did some research on her daughter’s condition, going on to learn Aya is only the second person in the country recorded to suffer the condition and only the 97th in the world.

Hoping to find help, Felson visited numerous hospitals in Australia.

“Umiiyak ako nu’n. Nag-iikot ako, pumunta ako sa malalaking siyudad, (pero) walang tumanggap doon sa kaso namin. Sabi nila ‘you’re not a resident or citizen here so you’re not entitled for medical benefits.’ May tinanong ako na doktor. Estimate niya aabutin daw ng $4 million ang operation ni Aya. Umiyak ako. Inisip ko saan naman ako kukuha nun,” narrated Felson.

Right there and then, Felson decided to simply go back home to be with his wife and daughter.

“Hindi ko tinapos kontrata ko. Iniwan ko mga gamit ko doon,” he said.

Given Aya’s needs, the couple’s savings eventually dwindled to nothing and they were soon deep in debt.

“Lahat ng naipundar po namin naubos,” Felson said. “Sasakyan, cellphone, ultimong hikaw at relo.”

To make ends meet, Felson took on various jobs, including habal-habal driver, office janitor, and fruit vendor.

“Kahit anong mapasukan ko, pinapasukan ko,” he shared. “Hindi din kasi ako makahanap ng permanenteng trabaho kasi pabalik-balik kami sa PGH (Philippine General Hospital).”

Aya had already undergone three operations but needs four more particularly on her spinal column.

“Kung hindi sya maoperahan, mapa-paralyze siya, hindi na siya makakagalaw as in gulay na. Wala nang chance,” said Felson.

While most would have easily crumbled given the seeming hopelessness of the situation, it only served to strengthen the couple’s faith.

“Iniisip ko, Lord binigyan mo kami ng trials na ganito kasi alam mong kaya namin. Inisip ko talaga maraming salamat po. Naging positive ako,” said Felson.

It helped that Aya is quite optimistic.

Jonavi related, “Parati niyang sinasabi sa amin na ‘everything’s gonna be alright.’”

“Kaya kami, hindi namin pinapakita na may problema kami. Kasi siya ang gusto niya laging masaya. Ayaw niyang may umiiyak,” added Felson.

During the interview, Aya was all smiles molding tissue papers in various shapes, imagining these as sea creatures.
Noticing this, Felson pointed out Aya is quite creative and smart.

“Sabi nga ng mga doktor, kailangan maoperahan si Aya kasi sayang yu’ng potensyal niya, ‘yung talino niya,” said Felson.
Those who want to help Aya may deposit cash in her name at Banco de Oro (BDO) account number 007990059093.

You may also contact Felson directly via mobile number 09451454960.

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