This young woman has become a successful chef at a five-star hotel after having her hands chopped off by an armed gang who also murdered her uncle when she was just 11 years old.
Maricel Apatan, 28, is a true example of perseverance in the face of life’s most difficult challenges.
When she was aged just 11, Apatan and her uncle were attacked by four armed men on their way to fetch water from a nearby well.
She never knew why they were attacked but the two were instructed to lie down on the ground, and Apatan’s uncle was killed by one of the men who slashed his neck with a machete.
Apatan started running for her life when she saw what they planned for her, but was quickly chased by the men and caught.
She said she screamed “don’t kill me! Have mercy on me!”
But her pleas were in vain and she was stabbed in the neck and lost consciousness.
Apatan’s hands were then chopped off as she was lying unconscious on the ground.
When she came round, she remained motionless and pretended to be dead until the men left, after which she started running, losing consciousness several times on her way home.
Apatan’s horror-stricken mother immediately rushed her to the hospital, where doctors said she would not make, it but they proceeded with a five-hour long operation anyway which stabilised Marciel’s condition.
Against all the odds, the girl miraculously survived, but was left with no hands.
In the following years, Apatan was completely dependent on her mother and her life was made increasingly difficult, especially at school where classmates used to tease her and she would cry all the time.
Despite all the challenges, Apatan managed to make continuous progress throughout the years with the help of many.
In 2008, she graduated with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and began her career as a chef. She said: “I have really enjoyed cooking since I was seven years old.”
Today, Apatan works as a chef in the Edsa Shangri-La five-star hotel in the Philippine capital Manila where she gracefully works her magic preparing beautiful dishes for guests.
She holds the knife between her torso and her wrist to cut vegetables and rarely asks for help. One of her colleagues, Aljamil Borja, said: “She asks for assistance only if she needs to move a hot kettle or large saucepan from the stove or open slippery bottle caps.”
According to Apatan, her trust in God helped her become more determined in striving to have a normal life. She added: “I believed I had an important mission in life because I survived the attack.”
Apatan’s story continues to inspire many to persevere in challenging times and go after their dreams no matter what.
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