DAVAO — 19-year-old Dresfie Codriga lived most of her life with a severe case of scoliosis – a sideways curvature of the spine that can cause pain, breathing or heart problems.
But thanks to Duncan Tree Foundation – a New York-based nonprofit – Codriga had a life-changing spinal surgery for free.
With a straightened spine, Codriga now has a new lease on life, and a new job in a local restaurant in Davao.
“I am very grateful to God, and to Duncan Tree foundation,” she says.
Duncan Tree Foundation is the only medical mission in the Philippines that offers free scoliosis surgeries for young disadvantaged Filipinos.
“We’ve known kids that want to commit suicide, and to know that we’re able to bring them to another side, where they don’t feel ostracized, they feel empowered, they feel more confident,” says president and founder Ouida Duncan.
Fil-Am Ruth Adap is one of the nurses who volunteered and assisted scoliosis surgeries in Duncan’s humanitarian mission to the Philippines last year.
The foundation has changed the lives of at least 200 scoliosis patients both in Jamaica and in the Philippines. Each surgery could cost up to $100,000.
“Basically, I found what my purpose in life is,” says Adap. “I was able to help out through the world of surgery and the world of volunteering, duncan tree foundation found a way to put people together, to help out Filipinos.”
Among them, philanthropist Loida Nicolas, who is lending her voice and resources to help the young people of Davao.
“This fundraiser will benefit the poor and mishapened children in davao city, I decide I had to be here. It’s a very expensive operation, and so for those who will be chosen in Davao City to have this operation, it’s like a gift from God because they would otherwise not have been able to afford it.”
“She understands at the end of the day, a lot of these young people, their lives will be shortened if the help is not here so she’s lending her voice, she’s lending her celebrity and we’re very grateful,” says Duncan.
The foundation has raised more than $7,000 so far, and it aims to raise at least $15,000 to send more nurses and doctors on its fourth mission in Davao later this year.