At a first glance, it may have looked as if Chok was simply playing in a small stream that ran past a school in of Manila, Philippines. Unbeknownst to the people of Revive Humanity who were painting this orphanage operated school, Chok, a boy of just 5 years old, was searching for crabs hoping to suppress his relentless hunger pains.
During his attempts to secure this food source, he heard the delighted sounds of children playing at the school. His curiosity encouraged him to abandon his endeavor and led him to the heavy, black gates that separated him from the rest of the children. In vain, Chok tried to open the gate. Instead, the heavy metal swung back and crushed his tiny thumb in its strong hinge.
“I remember hearing a scream from where I was located inside the school,” explains Amber Savage, a Revive Volunteer. She walked outside to determine the source of the piercing cry and found a boy from the orphanage shouting to her in Tagalog while holding aloft the little arm of Chok. “As I came closer, I saw blood on the concrete, and then I saw Chok’s thumb – nearly detached with the small bone protruding from the end.” Even as an EMT, no training could have prepared Amber to care for a child with whom she couldn’t communicate with nothing but her sparse first-aid kit of 2×2 gauze pads, alcohol, iodine, and antibiotic ointment.
Utilizing the translation skills of Ryan Ogden, President of Revive Humanity, Amber tried to explain that it would be very painful as she poured the alcohol over the wound in hopes to prevent infection. Chok would wince and increased tears would accumulate each time the alcohol was poured on his thumb. Despite this, he never made an attempt to move or pull away. “He would just look at me with his pleading but fierce gaze. I was amazed by his strength,” Amber recalls. She splinted his thumb with a matchbox after the bleeding had finally subsided.
The Revive workers then tried to find his parents. It was then that this young boy’s story unfolded. He explained that his father was dead and that his mother, addicted to drugs, did not take care of him. His uncle attempted to support him but with so many people to feed and house he was overwhelmed and could not give Chok all the necessities of life. Chok was fatherless as well as practically motherless and homeless. After getting a hold of the uncle and discussing the situation, the orphanage graciously took responsibility of Chok’s life. This experience would be a turning point for Amber Savage in helping her gain a vision and understanding for her own organization that she had never had before.
“We visited the orphanage before leaving for the day and were swarmed with over 30 excited children. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Chok sitting on the doorstep,” Amber says. In vain, he was trying once again to secure food for himself by opening a package of pretzels, impossible to do with the roughly designed matchbox splint. As Amber walked over and sat with him, it was all he could do but look at her with those piercing brown eyes.
“I hand fed Chok that day. I did something for him that he could not do for himself and my heart overflowed.” Amber continues, “I held him for the minutes before we left, and although he never said a word, he and I both seemed to understand.” Chok went from homeless to hopeful in one day. He was somewhere he could eat, safely sleep, and be given the medical attention he needed.
“I don’t know how it happens, how we sometimes manage to be in the right place at the right time. I would venture to say that fate, God, or whoever you may believe in has bigger plans for us than we realize,” Amber suggests. A religious leader once said, “I believe that we have all been created for greater things than we can comprehend.” It was through Chok’s eyes and tears that Amber realized the truth of this statement.
And that was the vision that Amber caught; the mission of Revive Humanity – to give people the opportunity to live life to the fullest, to provide opportunities for people to change not only the people they are working with but also themselves, to give hope to the hopeless, to help those who cannot help themselves. Amber concludes, “Ultimately, Chok did something for me that I could never have done for myself either.”