Monday, February 14, 2011

Outrunning Poverty

Eighteen year old Emilda has never been a stranger to hardship.

Born into extreme poverty in the Philippines, Emilda's life was already difficult enough, but it was about to get harsher. At the age of 2, she developed a high fever which soon led to convulsions. The convulsions were too much for her fragile brain.

She was unconscious for six days.

As parents, most of us can't imagine what Emilda's parents faced 16 years ago. We can't imagine what went through their minds in those desperate hours as they watched and prayed over their 2 year old daughter, not knowing if she'd recover or even survive.

She did survive, but she didn't recover in the ways that they had hoped and prayed for.

Emilda's brain suffered from the trauma of the fever and convulsions. Her parents hoped that she would overcome these challenges, but after five years of attempting to complete Kindergarten without success, tests determined that Emilda had suffered irreversible brain damage and had been left with the mind of a 3 year old.

Unable to count, memorize scriptures, read or write, struggling to communicate, Emilda found herself unable to complete an education that would have provided a way out of poverty. A way out of her poverty stricken neighborhood on the edge of this dangerous landfill where families scavenge for food, scraps, and survival.

While the brain damage affected her capacity to learn and communicate, it didn't affect her spirit.

There was something extra special about Emilda -- her ability to outrun her challenges. Literally, and otherwise.

Her ability to run was fostered and encouraged. She worked hard, eventually competing in the 12th Philippines Special Olympics in 2009, where despite a fever, she won a gold medal, two silver medals, and a bronze medal in track and field, qualifying her for the international Special Olympics in the historic city of Athens, Greece.

It was already a significant challenge to travel to the track for practice twice a day. They can't afford transportation, so they walk several miles, twice a day. They are determined to give her every possible chance...

... but Athens?

They can't walk to Athens.

All her life, Emilda has been a survivor, she has outrun each challenge to the best of her abilities.

This one seemed too great to outrun.

Except nothing is impossible for the God that we serve.

Emily is part of the Compassion program. In light of the special circumstances, her Compassion project brought this situation to the attention of Compassion international and an intervention proposal was submitted. Once approved, a fundraising initiative was set into motion for Emilda, her mother and a Compassion worker to travel to Athens, Greece, where Emilda will compete in the Special Olympics.

What a blessing for you and I, what an incredible opportunity to serve and be a part of Emilda's success story. An opportunity to give, to give hope, to surround her with love, and to cheer her on right through to Athens.

That fundraising initiative was announced on Valentine's Day, and already 48% of the total has been raised!!

There is still a chance to help -- won't you join us?

There is no amount too small. Emilda's family lives on less than $1 a day, can you match their daily salary and give $1? Perhaps $7? Give what you can.

Together, we can help Emilda outrun the poverty that has been trying to slow her down.

Together, we can help her outrun her way to Athens.

Donating couldn't be simpler -- just follow this link.

For more information on Emilda, click here, or here.


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