Mumbai: NGO to help cancer-striken kids fight depression with art

Sep 03, 2018, 14:00 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

OncoHappy will hold a programme in 15 hospitals, in which they will be taught art by trained professionals

Mumbai: NGO to help cancer-striken kids fight depression with art
Eleven-year-old Shiraj, who's battling blood cancer, with his paintings

Shiraj, an 11-year-old, dropped out of school after being diagnosed with blood cancer, and became sad and depressed. But art therapy helped cheer him up. Through an NGO, OncoHappy, which helps cancer patients with alternative therapy options, he is learning to paint. The NGO has tied up with 15 hospitals — private and civic-run — across the city this month which is observed as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, to hold an art therapy programme for kids.

As many as 100 trained professionals will provide alternative forms of therapy to pediatric cancer patients in hospitals including the Tata Memorial, Hinduja, Sion, KEM etc through the programme.

Drawing helps
The NGO feels working with art will help kids affected by cancer. As Shiraj says, he was sad as he couldn't go to school, but learning to paint helped. "When my treatment started, it made me so weak I felt that I couldn't do anything. But over these past four months, I am slowly getting stronger. For the past couple of weeks, I have also started to learn art.

Every Friday, I wait for the teachers so I can learn something new. I like art so much that I have even made my own Ganpati at home. When I draw, I forget that I am sick and I dream of what I can do with my life. Someday I want to be an architect or a cartoonist. May be my art will help some other kids like me one day."

Creative counselling
"Children who are diagnosed with cancer often slip into depression. There is a need for a more creative form of counselling for them and nothing like art. So, in this pediatric cancer awareness month, we have tied up with several hospitals where trained professional artists will teach kids seven forms of art like dancing, painting, storytelling, craft etc," said Mansi Mehta, founder of OncoHappy. The programme will be held from September 15 to 22 in these 15 hospitals.

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