THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Twenty years ago when Sheeba Ameer learnt that her daughter Niloufa had cancer, her world came crashing down. The very next day, the family left for Mumbai to give the 13-year-old the best treatment the medical world could offer. Sheeba spent the next three years in Mumbai, caring for her daughter. It was then the stark disparity between the haves and have-nots struck her and how it devastates a family when they cannot give their child medical support.
Sheeba, whose family could muster up the financial aid for her daughter’s medication, made a vow to herself. Upon return after treatment, she would start something to help those who are cash-strapped and facilitate the treatment of their children. And thus was born Solace.Launched in 2007, Solace works to help out the families struggling to treat their wards who are terminally ill. The organisation extends its help in not just offering medical aid, but other needs for improving the quality of living in financially weak families struggling with terminally ill kids. Solace extends its helping hand until the child attains the age of 18.
“When a child in the family gets ill, it cripples the whole family. Ours is an effort to ensure that the child gets treated and the quality of life of the family is not affected,” says Sheeba. After returning home post the treatment of her daughter, Sheeba worked in pain and palliative care to know more before launching Solace.
The first unit was started at Thrissur and now Solace has grown, to the setting up of seven such chapters in all, the recent one being inaugurated in the capital last week. Just two months into doing their groundwork in the capital, as many as 72 families have approached the Thiruvananthapuram chapter of Solace. Niloufa passed away a few years ago. “She was my biggest inspiration, she would tell me to help the other families out, saying they needed me more,” says Sheeba.
The NGO which has chapters in Thrissur, Kochi, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram has taken under its wings over 2,000 families since inception. Sheela Rahuleyan, convenor of the Thiruvananthapuram chapter, says the endeavour seeks to hold together a family and extend its support to all fronts.
“Unless the child recovers or attains the age of 18, we exist as a support system, covering education, livelihood expenses and giving emotional support for those in the weaker sections. To date, we have over 70 cases in hand, which includes children from across the state,” says Sheela.