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While others doubt the existence of miracles, Valencia Mieke Randa lives on them.

Valencia established the Blood4Life online community in 2009 after experiencing difficulties in finding blood donors for her mother, who had to undergo hemodialysis twice a week.

“At that time, I realized that there were many good people out there willing to donate but unsure where to go, while on the other hand patients’ relatives didn’t know how to get help.

“I used the internet, the world without borders where everybody is connected, to connect those who need blood with potential donors.”

When she started, she had only 44 donors, but soon saw a tremendous increase to over 100,000 standby donors across the archipelago.

“Within five minutes, or two hours at the latest, a patient can get a donor,” she said.

She decided to return to work after seeing that her three children no longer needed her intensive care. Blood4Life went into a hiatus for nearly a year, until Valencia was repeatedly contacted by a man asking her for help to find a blood donor for his mother.

“I was in a meeting so I didn’t pick up the call. When I got home, I called him back, but he coldly said my help was no longer needed because his mother had already died. Two months after that, my own mother died.”

Valencia’s mother suffered from cancer and although doctors estimated that she had only eight months, she survived for eight years.

The eulogy given at her mother’s funeral reminded her of the community she had left behind. She realized then that doing good deeds was important.

With a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Indonesia, Valencia had made a career at private bank Danamon, as well as at auto accessories and supplies company Astra International, but she decided to quit work for good and dedicate her time to help others.

It was not easy to pick up where she had left off, with only 132 followers on Twitter in 2011, so she started to use the magic words of “help” or “urgent” on her messages for wider outreach.

That year, she was named an “internet Hero” by search engine Google, along with Ridwan Kamil and Shafiq Pontoh for their idle-land urban farming movement Indonesia Berkebun and Dani Kusuma, who created an email account, lia.tersayang@gmail.com, to send a letter to her newborn daughter until the age of seven.

The Blood4Life promotional video went viral on the day of its release and as a result, the Indonesian Red Cross headquarters on Jl. Jend. Gatot Subroto was full of blood donors lining up from the first to the fifth floor.

“I haven’t done much with the internet, but even a simple gesture can be meaningful to others. It feels good doing good things,” she said.

Playtime: Young outpatients play in their room at Rumah Harapan in Tebet, South Jakarta.(Courtesy of Rumah Harapan)Playtime: Young outpatients play in their room at Rumah Harapan in Tebet, South Jakarta.(Courtesy of Rumah Harapan)

Valencia, or Silly to her relatives and friends, branched out, visiting hospitals twice a week to collect data on blood needs. However, she also found that most patients, especially children, also needed money and caretakers, because their parents were out at work or had quit work to be with their hospitalized children.

She established a credible movement of financial donors named 3 Little Angels to show that all donations went to child patients and the caretaker volunteers.

Around that time, she met with a family hailing from Kalimantan who practically lived in the hospital corridor because their eldest child was being treated at a hospital in Jakarta and they could not leave the youngest home alone.

Valencia came up with the idea of providing a facility where child outpatients could stay so parents could continue to earn a living without worries.

“But establishing a halfway house needs a lot money, and I’m just a regular housewife”, she said.

But, when there’s a will, there’s a way.

She stumbled upon a house for rent perfect for the purpose and the owner gave her time to collect every dime she could lay her hands on to pay the annual fee of Rp 100 million (US$7,616).

“I only had Rp 1 million for a down payment at that time. Thank God I received a lot of work as a speaker and program ambassador, so I could pay in 13 installments.”

More money problems arose because the house was already in poor condition. A paint manufacturer donated cans of paint, but no workers. Optimizing social media, volunteers came for a fun painting event. Media reportage on the event also brought in hordes of donors, both money and in-kind, so Valencia could renovate the two-story house bit by bit.

In November 2014, Rumah Harapan (House of Hope) opened its service with first patient Tyas, now 13, who had been diagnosed with bone cancer and was in palliative care at home in Grogol, West Jakarta.

With nine people sharing the 4-by-6 meter house, Tyas had to bear being bitten by mice and flies breeding in her wounds.

“We moved her to Rumah Harapan and I told the volunteers to pour their love into the child because the doctor said she only had a few months left. But Tyas grew healthier and, after persuading the doctor to give her another check, the cancer cells miraculously vanished. Love is the best medicine and happiness is indeed an immune booster.”

Aside from Tyas, who remains in the house, 51 other children in need of palliative care have stayed in the house. Of the figure, 15 have not survived.

“I wish to see more child palliative care across the country by 2020,” said Valencia, adding that similar projects were in the pipeline in Bandung, Makassar and Bali this year, while Aceh and Surabaya were on the list for next year.

While the projects rely on donors, Valencia established online businesses in food and jewelry, made by local artisans, to cover operational costs.

“I can do all of this because I’m a mother of three children with special needs,” she said.
Her eldest suffers from over-anxiety resulted from consuming painkillers given by her nanny when she was a baby, while her second child, a boy, was diagnosed with epilepsy and autism and often descends into explosive tantrums.

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