With Mukesh Garodia, execom member of the Hemophilia Federation India and Cheryl D' Ambrosio, founder of My Girls Blood.
With Mukesh Garodia, execom member of the Hemophilia Federation India and Cheryl D' Ambrosio, founder of My Girls Blood.

With Mukesh Garodia, execom member of the Hemophilia Federation India and Cheryl D’ Ambrosio, founder of My Girls Blood.

To say it’s been a wonderful week is an understatement. This past week was a dream come true — hosting two of the most dedicated leaders in the global hemophilia community.

I met Cheryl D’ Ambrosio around 2010 through a social network before Facebook became an in-thing. She’s one lady I so highly respect. Founder of My Girls Blood, she raised the banner for women in the male-oriented world of hemophilia. But it was on Facebook that our interaction became more frequent. When My Girls Blood group was formalized, I was named as one of the ambassadors.

Cheryl is a step mom to two girls, now beautiful ladies, with Factor V deficiency. For many years, Cheryl was like a voice in the wilderness — advocating, many times, alone — for women’s issues to be recognized in a male-dominated global community. After all, it was thought that hemophilia and bleeding disorders in general, only affect boys and men.

I met Mukesh Garodia in 2011 through Facebook. I’ve heard many good things about him from another esteemed leader and I promised myself I would meet him someday, learn how he started doing things in an equally challenging country such as India. Mukesh is a rebel, I was told. But a rebel with a good cause. With severe Hemophilia A, he was bedridden for two years and went through unimaginable pain.

In 2010, Cheryl started My Girls Blood page on Facebook and she encouraged us to interact and tell our stories. The exchanges became a platform not only to exchange our daily struggles and experiences but also on raising awareness about our disorder. I love our group. Finally, there are people who truly understand what my family and I had been going through.

We started as an “all girls” group. And then one day, I noticed an “intruder.” In my mind, I was questioning why there was a guy in our girls’ group. There are already so many male-dominated hemophilia pages. This is one corner for us girls and this one guy had the audacity to intrude!

But few months later, I saw that Cheryl — our My Girls Blood “mom” — was in India organizing the women of Hemophilia Federation India. I envied India and wished for Cheryl to come to the Philippines. Little did I know that the “intruder,” Mukesh, was the man behind the women’s group of HFI.

The three of us met in Melbourne and agreed to start working on a possible partnership between India and the Philippines. Six months later, my dream finally came true.

We are far way off from where we envision My Girls Blood in the Philippines to be in partnership with our national organization — the Hemophilia Association of the Philippines for Love and Service. But one dream come true is enough to keep on dreaming.  Next: Blessed to be a bleeder

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About Andrea Echavez

I am an advocate for people with bleeding disorders. My daughter Star and I were diagnosed with von Willebrand's Disease Type 2M.