When Rose was hit multiple times by a speeding jeepney driver, she was left with terrible injuries. But in a cruel twist, the driver walked free while her family faced a hospital bill they couldn’t afford. Yet if they didn’t, their daughter would never walk again.
15 Jun, 2017
It happened three years ago but it’s still hard for Rose to talk about it.
“It was morning; I was walking to school,” she begins. “As we were crossing the street, there was a very fast jeepney driver.” She blinks back tears. “They hit us. My cousin was thrown out of the way. My feet were hit. My brother came back for me but the jeepney came back. It reversed over me five times,” she says.
“It tried to make sure I was dead.”
She was 12 years old.
Rose was a victim of a horrific phenomenon known as a ‘double hit’ or ‘hit to kill’. In countries with low victim compensation laws, the payout for killing a victim in a traffic accident may be small. In contrast, paying for the care of a disabled or injured survivor can last a lifetime. The initial hit may have been an accident, but drivers who hit to kill do so because the result—death—is more economical. “If I am going to be dead, it is cheaper for the driver to pay for the funeral,” explains Rose. “If I’m alive, the driver has to pay for my hospital fees.”
In Rose’s community in Legazpi, the Philippines, there has been at least one other case and numerous documented cases in countries including Taiwan and China.
Rose escaped with her life but was left with a horrific open fracture of her left leg. The jeepney driver was arrested but spent just one night in jail. Rose’s family suspected money exchanged hands. They settled the matter with the driver but the compensation was almost laughably little.
At the hospital, the doctor was blunt. If Rose was to keep her foot, she needed surgery. Fast. But the surgery wouldn’t happen without upfront payment. Her family needed to act quickly and find the money before he would operate.
The surgery wasn’t expensive but for Rose’s family, it may as well have been tens of thousands of dollars. The family lived off her father’s wage as a fish vendor at the local market. Despite his hard work, their savings were nowhere close to paying the sum. Rose’s mum left her daughter’s bedside, and her father his work, to rush desperately from neighbour to neighbour, begging for a loan. It hurt their pride to beg, but they swallowed it down. Pride has no place when your child is suffering.
Finally, they gathered the money. But questions weighed heavily upon them. How would they pay their neighbours and family back? And what of the medication Rose needed to treat and prevent infection?
Her mum approached the Compassion centre at the local church. For the first time since the accident, she felt at peace when she walked out of the building with their answer.
“Compassion gave us assistance and support for the operation I had, and reimbursed us for the medication we needed to buy,” says Rose. It was four months before she could walk again, but Rose remained positive. Today, two years later, she has physically recovered. The emotional scars run deeper, but the love, counselling and prayers from Compassion staff are helping those heal, too.
“I can run, walk and play again,” says Rose.
“I can even do chores!”
Your support means children like Rose and their families don’t have to go through trauma alone. By making a one-off donation to Compassion’s Medical fund, you’ll give children and families a lifeline when they face sickness and injuries.
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