A rich man's change of heart

Though we evaluate our work in terms of the benefit to the poor, the fact is that our projects also have an incredible impact on the men and women who have dedicated their lives to charity and self-sacrifice. One person who comes to mind is Bobby Rodrigo. He is a resource general director with Gawad Kalinga, a project we support that provides housing for poor families in the Philippines.

Bobby experienced the best the world had to offer, and realized it wasn’t enough. The retired Filipino businessman was living in a 75,000 square-foot mansion with 12 bedrooms and a 10-car garage when he decided to get involved with the Gawad Kalinga project. His garage alone was a luxury resort compared to the dilapidated slums he soon found himself in. The small shanties, pieced together with salvaged scraps of cardboard, tin, tarpaulin, and discarded wood, were homes to entire families who could only dream of owning one car, let alone 10. The disparity touched him deeply.

Bobby Rodrigo (right) gave up a life of luxury so that he could serve the poor through the Gawad Kalinga housing project.

Bobby Rodrigo (right) gave up a life of luxury so that he could serve the poor through the Gawad Kalinga housing project.

In the face of such need, Bobby felt he could no longer justify his lavish lifestyle. He sold his mansion and moved into a much more modest home, and focused his attention on alleviating the suffering of desperate families in the slum communities.

Later, Bobby developed a blocked artery and needed open-heart surgery. His doctor scheduled an angiogram in the morning – so Bobby could see the blockage for himself – and the surgery for the afternoon of the same day.

What happened next is best explained in Bobby’s own words. “The night before the procedures, I prayed, ‘Lord, please help me be well so I can finish all the Gawad Kalinga work we’ve got going for the poor.’ I prayed harder than I had in my whole life.

“The next day, they could find no blockage. The doctor said, ‘You must have strong connections upstairs, because there’s no explanation. It’s a miracle!’”

Bobby didn’t need the doctor, because God had already performed surgery on his heart, in more ways than one. He’s become a new man with a new calling and a new lease on life.

We are so thankful for the compassionate men and women who are helping us bring God’s love to the poorest of the poor. They are out in the field every day, providing the needy with shelter, food, medicine, clothing, education, and hope for a better future. And we want you to be a part of it.

To find out how you can get involved with our work in the slums of the Philippines, click here.