Ray of sunshine for kids with terminal illnesses

Happy Feet Home, a hospice in Sion, ensures that kids suffering from HIV and cancer spend their last few days with a smile on their faces

The room is abuzz with children of all age groups smiling from ear to ear. Tunes of popular Hindi songs, played on a guitar, fill the air. Everyone is singing along, enjoying the moment. Some children are playing drums.

Happy feet home
Out of the 35 children, 34 of them are undergoing Anti Retroviral Therapy for HIV at Sion Hospital

This is just another day at Happy Feet Home, a hospice recently set up in Sion for children suffering from terminal illnesses such as HIV, cancer and thalassemia to ensure that they spend the last few days of their lives with a smile on their faces.

The 35 kids, most of whom are undergoing treatment for HIV, say that leave their fears behind, thanks to the few hours they spend at the centre. The brainchild of youngsters Abhishek Tatiya and Mansi Shah, Happy Feet Home opened its doors on August 14, 2014. sunday mid-day was the first to report the duo’s collaboration (Bidding Adieu with a Smile, January 5) with civic-run Sion hospital for a palliative care centre at the Urban Health Centre of the Dharavi hospital.

“Over the last few months, we have managed to raise Rs 10 lakh for the palliative care centre through crowdfunding. However, getting clearances from civic authorities is a time-consuming process. So we decided to open this centre in Sion to attend to the patients at the earliest,” said Shah.

Out of the 35 children, 34 of them are undergoing Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) for HIV at Sion Hospital and one girl is undergoing treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital. “For more than a year, we had been working towards setting up this centre. Last month, we were able to lease a place for the hospice. We received a lot of help from random people who helped us decorate the centre,” Shah added.

Activities galore
Inspirational quotes adorn the walls of the two rooms in the centre. Children can draw, indulge in craft sessions, play musical instruments and a variety of indoor games. Apart from volunteers, there is also a trained nurse and an art-therapist to counsel them.

Fifteen-year-old Raj (name changed), who has been coming to the hospice quite often, said, “I eagerly look forward to my sessions at the centre as it takes my mind off from my treatment and these fun-filled activities make me happy.”

The boy, who weighs only 14 kg, had suicidal tendencies earlier. His mother said, “Ever since we started coming here, there has been a radical change in him. Thanks to the emotional support that he gets here, he has started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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