By Peaches Aranas
It was February 2013 when my only daughter Sandy caught dengue and unexpectedly passed away seven days later. She was only 10 years old. It was a tragedy I vowed no other parent or child should suffer, so later that year I launched The Sandy Project. It’s a self-funded advocacy that I hope would help bring down the dengue menace and bring honor to the memory of my unica hija. When she passed away, it really broke our hearts, and broke our whole family. We didn’t know what hit us. So as a way to cope, I thought of doing something to leave a legacy for Sandy, so her life would not have been for naught.
The Sandy Project is a gift that I want to give to fathers, mothers, and siblings who can lose a loved one to dengue.
Three years later, I feel like I have not even touched the surface of the pain of losing my daughter. I told myself, “I have to do something.” I needed to find a way to release this pain somehow. Imagine, one second was all it took. One second for that mosquito to infect my daughter, for me to lose her. That realization is not easy. One second changed our lives forever. That’s how dangerous dengue is, and yet we took it for granted, and so many still do not take it seriously.
WORKING TO FIGHT THE LOSS OF ANOTHER SANDY
Together with partners from the public and private sector, the Sandy Project goes to schools and localities and educates children and parents on the importance of preventing and protecting against the deadly dengue virus, which is carried by mosquitos.
The campaign provides children and its beneficiaries with anti-mosquito sprays and lotions, mosquito nets and other anti-insect medicine and equipment, and teaches children about dengue through games, songs, dances, and books that are also given away to communities to aid their dengue education efforts.
The Sandy Project is currently self-funded, mainly from my private law practice (LMA Law Office), but I’m still currently looking for public and corporate partners. I have raised funds by selling a variety of merchandise and, in time, will accept donations from individuals or groups.
This project has brought me to two communities so far, in Bacolod City and Brgy. Loyola Heights in Quezon City last October. I have joined other anti-dengue campaigns and outreach programs. I went to Albay to join a similar group that donated raincoats and mosquito repellent.
I have been active in dengue drives, in the hopes that no mother will lose another Sandy again. The point of this endeavor is to raise awareness in kids’ themselves.
I have so far spent my own money, but for this project to be bigger, I will soon start looking for more partners from both the public and private sectors so I could go to more sites around the country. I will soon accept donations in cash or in kind, like mosquito nets, insect repellent, educational materials on dengue, venues to hold their campaigns in, anything to help advance the cause of dengue awareness and prevention.
I share Sandy’s life story and our horrible weeklong experience of fighting this virus with the children, in the hope that they will crusade with me in fighting dengue and saving lives.
It is also our family’s gift to Sandy to honor her short life with a legacy that speaks of purpose and hope. And it is my humble gift to God, in thanksgiving, for the blessing of 10 years with a beautiful daughter. It is a reminder that we are but stewards on this earth.
To God be All Glory.