CapU documentary student travels to the Philippines to help save a 10-year-old’s life

A saving pulse 

CapU documentary student embarks on lifesaving mission to the Philippines

Justin Scott / managing editor

Although Claus Bauer, a Capilano University Documentary Certificate Program student, has spent over two decades giving back around the world through several humanitarian outlets, his latest endeavor involves Bauer’s big heart literally saving another.

In 2013, Bauer was living in the Philippines – where he owns the Paradise English Boracay School – when Typhoon Yolanda devastated the nation. With over 20 years of humanitarian work under his belt at that point, there was no question in his mind as to what was next. “I lived 70 kilometers away from where the eye of the storm was,” he said. “Being in the Philippines, a Third World country, I knew that there wasn’t going to be too much help from the government, especially in the area that was devastated.”

So, Bauer and his associates ventured to an area nearby with the most destruction, the town of San Isidro on the island of Panay, and help. They brought clean water, pots and pans, canned food and rice and helped repair or rebuild shelters. While they were doing this, they met a local man named Victor. “We were handing out tarps and he goes, ‘Claus, you know what, we’ve got enough tarps,’ and I right away latched onto that guy because I was like, ‘this guy you can really trust’,” Bauer recalled.

Eventually Bauer and his team had built around 15 homes in the town, one of its school’s buildings, a playground and had coordinated medical missions with the red cross. But, they weren’t done there.

Bauer decided that he wanted to donate a trike, which is used as a taxi in the Philippines, to one of the local families to ensure them a strong future. “I asked Victor, ‘what family could really use this?’ and he told me about Evelyn.”

Evelyn Dela Cruz has five children and had recently lost her husband to a heart attack when Bauer met her. Evelyn and her family live on $60 USD a month, which Bauer said is nothing in the Philippines. Their house has no electricity or running water. “We were discussing how they could benefit, or if they could benefit [from the trike], because I don’t like organizations that just go there, give them cash or build them something and that’s it,” Bauer explained.

Claus poses with Janeth and the Dela Cruz family at their home in the town of San Isidro.

However, as Bauer was with the family discussing the possibility of them receiving the vehicle, he noticed something about one of Evelyn’s children, her daughter Janeth. “She had really blue lips and was really lethargic with all the other kids,” he said. Evelyn explained that Janeth had a heart issue, but the test to determine what the issue was would cost around 4,000 Filipino pesos, or $80 USD. So, with Evelyn’s 3,000 pesos a month income, there was no way for her to afford the test. As a parent himself, Bauer knew how agonizing this must have been for Evelyn and gave her the cash for the test immediately.

They soon discovered that Janeth had a Congenital heart disease and Tetralogy of Fallot and she would require surgery.

With the situation becoming more complicated, Bauer and his team decided to reach out for help. They started a GoFundMe page, with a goal of reaching $16,330 CDN, which would pay for Janeth’s surgery, a trike and a new home for the Dela Cruz family. In less than a month, the campaign has reached $16,200, which has allowed them to begin the process of Janeth’s operation. Unfortunately, due to the risk involved, Janeth must have some dental work done before she can have her heart worked on, to lower the risk of infection once the operation is complete. Additionally, the Dela Cruz family and Bauer found out that Janeth may have Tuberculosis or Pneumonia, which has elongated the process even more. However, Janeth will soon have her surgery, and eventually the family will get their trike.

The DelaCruz family poses for a photo following a doctor’s visit in Manila.

As he’s in the Documentary Film Making program, Bauer will of course be documenting the trike’s journey. “We’re going to build it in Manila and then we’re going to drive it through three islands, which is about 500 kilometres to where Janet and her mother are from,” he said, explaining that he plans on giving people rides along the way. “Then we’re going to give it to them there.”

What started as helping a town rebuild, then helping a family better their future, has quickly turned into a life saving mission. “At first, we thought you know, we’re going to be able to help this family fend for themselves a little bit better. And then of course it became a much bigger thing with this little kid’s heart,” Bauer said. And he encourages others to try to help as well. Although not everyone can go the Philippines and help typhoon ravaged towns, Bauer pointed out that every community has members in need of help. “You can do things not just in a Third World country or a developing country, you can do things anywhere,” he said. “Start small, get involved with an organization and then go from there.”

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