A Home Away From Home
Witnessing the gleeful joy of the children, smiling and dancing during a function at Tata Memorial Centre, was a life-changing moment for Mr. Nihal Kaviratne. These were children who affected by childhood cancer but despite the odds stacked against them and their families, they appeared unfazed and high-spirited. What bewildered him more was the knowledge that they had no place to call home during the course of their treatment, and oftentimes, the pavements and railway stations served as ‘shelters’.
He was determined to change things for them. He embarked on a mission to provide them with a roof over their heads, and a clean and loving place to live while seeking treatment. This was the inspiration for St. Judes, ‘A Home Away From Home’, which filled the most important gap between what the hospitals provided in outpatient treatment and what a cancer-stricken child required.
St. Judes Family – Fostering A Sense Of Togetherness
15 years on and the St. Judes family is growing. Its humble beginnings can be traced to its first centre for just eight childhood cancer patients and their families in Mumbai in 2006. Today, it has grown to become a home away from home to more than 492 children and their families across nine cities in India and 39 centres and the numbers are growing every year.
“Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.” – Pierce Brown
The vision to illuminate the lives of at least 1000 children and their families over the next five years is a strong vision that St. Judes is committed to delivering. Their core mission remains to ensure no child afflicted with cancer is left behind. An important tenet of St Judes is the provision of safe and sanitized surroundings while a child is undergoing treatment for cancer.
Besides this, St. Judes provides a nurturing and comforting environment committed to easing the lives of childhood cancer patients and their families. In the words of William J. Bennett, “Home is a shelter from storms – all sorts of storms.”
Since its inception, St. Judes has unfailingly strived to provide holistic support and care to the myriad needs of the child and family. This support extends beyond the medical treatment to cover post-care for childhood cancer which is vital for the recovery of a child with cancer. From regular doctors visits to timely education, emphasizing the importance of hygiene and being disciplined to ensuring that both patients and parents don’t lose heart in the fight to combat childhood cancer, St Judes covers it all. Another unique takeaway is educating parents about community living, thereby fostering a sense of belonging. Besides, St. Judes’ also addresses parents’ well-being by ensuring that their emotional and psychosocial needs are given importance. Qualified counselors are on hand for the families and staff to fulfill this need.
The Child At The Core
Another distinctive feature is St. Judes’ commitment to respecting and valuing the child as an individual. They are treated with care and compassion with regards to their emotional, psychosocial, physical and educational needs.
To this end, St. Judes provides mentors, counsellors, and educators to come to St. Judes and take classes for the children, be it academics or recreational activities, ensuring the overall development of the children.
The Pillars Of St. Judes’ Home
“It takes a village to raise a child” – African Proverb
Just as important as the foundation built by Mr Nihal Kaviratne, are the important stakeholders – be it doctors, volunteers or financial contributors. All have had an important part to play in making St Judes close to the hearts of our children and their families.
Every gesture of goodwill, monetary or otherwise, goes a long way in making a difference. Be part of St. Judes’ journey in adding that little sunshine and sparkle in the lives of her little warrior children in their battle against childhood cancer!