A new leg, renewed hope for a single father in Mindanao

A new leg, renewed hope for a single father in Mindanao

In July 2019, Ricardo Tapican lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident. "I was riding home with my cousin and nephew after a long day at work when the brakes of my motorcycle failed," he recalls.
Article 19 June 2022 Philippines

Ricardo in front of his house. Ryan Ang/ICRC

"My heart is crushed each time my children ask for something that I cannot provide because of my disability," says Ricardo Tapican.

Although his relatives, who were riding pillion, emerged unscathed from the accident, Ricardo suffered severe injuries in his right leg. "I thought I was going to die. On regaining consciousness, my first thoughts were of my children. I told my nephew to take care of them if anything were to happen to me," says the 34-year-old single father of three.

The doctors told Ricardo that the severity of his injuries had left them no choice but to amputate his leg. To this day, Ricardo cannot believe what happened to him. "It's been three years since the accident and I still cannot fully accept what happened. My disability has made life very difficult for me as a single father. I feel that the accident took a big part of me. I can no longer provide for my children," says Ricardo, who is from Agusan del Sur in Mindanao.

The loss of his right leg made it difficult for him to land a stable, well-paying job. And the money he earned from odd jobs wasn't enough to support his children, forcing him to send them to live with their mother and other relatives. It was a heart-breaking decision and not one that he wanted for his kids.

"My children are only 13, 12 and 9 years old. I could not take care of them on my own, especially with no stable income. I tried, but no one would hire me after knowing about my disability," says Ricardo.

He tried to go back to his old job as a rubber tapper, but the once enjoyable job became an intensely challenging task with only one leg. "The uneven and sometimes muddy terrain made it difficult to move around with crutches. Several times I lost my balance and fell to the ground," says Ricardo.

Finding solutions

But Ricardo is not giving up. He wants his children to finish school because he knows that an education will open many doors for them in the future.

"I had made a promise to myself not to neglect or let my children suffer just because their mother and I separated. When I was still a student, I didn't take my education seriously; I want my children to finish school and not end up like me," says Ricardo.

Determined to get his life back on track, Ricardo realized he needed an artificial leg. Three years after his motorcycle accident and following months of research, Ricardo came across the Facebook pages of the non-profit foundation Davao Jubilee Foundation (DJF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which supports the DJF. He learned about DJF's rehabilitation work with disabled people in Mindanao.

Ricardo travelled from his hometown, San Francisco in Agusan del Sur, to DJF's Davao City office where, after an evaluation by the DJF staff, he was declared eligible to receive a prosthesis. Ricardo felt that God had finally answered his prayers.

A DJF staff gets the shape of Ricardo's remaining leg for his custom-made prosthesis. Melrick Lucero/ICRC

"As a father and padre de pamilya [head of the family], I don't want to depend on others to provide for my family. I can't wait to complete my physical rehabilitation programme here at DJF ad look for a decent job," he says.

Ricardo's physical rehabilitation journey started on 29 March 2022. The DJF provided him with a physical rehabilitation programme, including a custom-made prosthesis. He also received unconditional cash grants from the ICRC to meet his family's basic needs.

Ricardo's prosthetic leg being created. Melrick Lucero/ICRC

I was in disbelief when I first heard that I'd be given a new leg. It felt like a dream. But after arriving at DJF, the reality of what is happening started to sink in, that my dream of walking on two legs again is about to come true.

Ricardo with his new prosthesis. Melrick Lucero/ICRC

About Davao Jubilee Foundation 

DJF is a non-governmental organization located in Davao City, Philippines, that provides a variety of physical rehabilitation services to disabled people and people in need of supportive braces, wheelchairs, artificial limbs or other mobility support devices. The DJF helps all disabled Filipinos, wherever they may be.

DJF's physical rehabilitation services include physical therapy, custom manufacturing of artificial limbs, providing orthosis wheelchairs and mental health and psychosocial (MHPSS) counselling for disabled people. The ICRC's close partnership with DJF has improved disabled people's access to comprehensive and high-quality physical rehabilitation services, mitigating the challenging circumstances they face in the Philippines. The ICRC also supports the socio-economic needs of vulnerable DJF beneficiaries.

For more details, please contact Davao Jubilee Foundation at 0975-781-7514 or message them directly on their Facebook page.