THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Cancer treatment would no longer mean missing out on the cozy home atmosphere and studies for years together. At least, for a few little children on treatment at the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) here.
In a unique initiative, the paediatric oncology department along with the support group Prathyasa and a Delhi-based NGO CanKids, is all set to launch a Home Away from Home (HAH) programme in a couple of weeks.
The most common among childhood cancers are the blood cancers, which require treatment for one or two years. “The kids come from far and wide and are confined to the hospital for months and even years together. The HAH project aims to give them not just a home to return to, but also a place where tuition can be arranged for the classes they miss and a recreational area,” said Kusumakumary, professor of paediatric oncology at the RCC.
While the original plan was to establish the HAH project in 50 cents of land in a 5-km radius of RCC, the problem of finding the land has forced the RCC to go in for a rented building. “The Delhi-based organisation CanKids has agreed to financially support us in the venture. A counsellor-cum-teacher would be appointed not only to counsel children but also teach them what they miss in school. These classes, though informal, would help the children integrate back into the school atmosphere once the treatment is over,” said Kusumakumary.
A red and white brand new building with four bedrooms in 25 cents of land at Chempazhanthy would now become a temporary home for at least 10 families. The bedrooms will accommodate mothers and children on bunk beds, while the fathers will have to share the huge drawing-cum-dining area.
The rent would be paid by CanKids while the day-to-day running of the centre will be supervised by Prathyasha, a support group of parents of cancer-affected children. For now, children for the HAH project would be selected on the basis of the family income.
“Once we start functioning at Chempazhanthy and show that this is a very useful project, we hope that people would start chipping in. The infrastructure alone will cost us around Rs 2 crore. The land has to come free of cost,” said Kusumakumary, who is hoping that either the government or some philanthropist will help RCC realise this wonderful concept.
The infrastructure is not just for accommodation, but recreation, non-formal education for children and vocational training for the mothers. According to RCC estimates, at least 150 families of cancer-afflicted children are displaced at a given time for cancer treatment. The objective of the HAH concept is to house at least 50 of the poor families.