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Hope floats for cancer-stricken kids at St Jude's

When St Jude’s India Child Care Centre in Kharghar started its journey in the satellite city, authorities never thought it would be such a memorable one. But after it completed three years, they seem to cherish each day they have spent here. 

St Jude's organises activities for cancer-stricken children
Spreading smiles: St Jude’s organises activities for cancer-stricken children to develop their personalities

The place today is home to 41 children coming with their parents from various parts of the country to be treated for cancer. It is filled with positive energy keeping the patients, their parents and administrative staff in high spirits.

St Jude's conducts activities for the cancer-stricken children
Coming together: St Jude’s conducts activities for the cancer-stricken children which they attend with their parents

Located within the premises of Kharghar’s Tata Memorial Hospital, St Jude’s India Child Care Centre is a three-storied building. Kids from the age of one up to 15 years reside here when they come to the city to get themselves treated for cancer. The centre does not charge them any money for living there.

A volunteer helps a child play with a  life-size character of a cartoon
Looking ahead: A volunteer helps a child play with a life-size character of a cartoon

Tyaba Bilgrami, manager of the centre, said, “When the building was offered to us by Tata Hospital it was not in a very good shape. Therefore, our first task was to set things right by renovating it. Making the place look good and clean was very important to us. It is important to understand that cancer patients require hygienic conditions so that they do not catch any kind of infection.”

A St Jude's volunteer offers a child some toys
A helping hand: A St Jude’s volunteer offers a child some toys

Bilgrami added, “We were very new to Navi Mumbai and it was a very different environment for us. Besides, transportation was also a major issue. Since this place is cut off from the hustle bustle of the city, parents who came here initially had their own doubts. However, as time passed their confidence has grown.”

Although there are kids of all age groups living at the centre, it is mandatory that both the parents of the child live with them because the centre authorities believe that no one is as dedicated to getting the child’s treatment more than his or her parents.

The time span of each family living at the centre varies from three months to a year depending on the child’s treatment.

Each family is given one unit to live in, and has a gas to cook their meals in the common kitchen.

“Hygiene is given a lot of importance here and we constantly aim at keeping everything clean and tidy. Mothers are even given instructions to cook high protein meals for the child. It is not possible to give the child formal school education, but we make it a point to conduct various activities which will help them develop their personality,” added Bilgrami who says that many times families go back to their villages knowing much more about cancer than any other lay man would know.

Shyama Kaviratne, one of the founders of the centre said that they feel happy about helping in giving the parents of these children an assurance that they have done the best they could for the treatment of their child.

“We always wanted to do something for the cause of children and are happy to have got this opportunity. Our aim is to provide holistic care to these children and hence we continuously put in efforts in that direction.”  

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