In late 1997 we began visiting patients admitted to the Cancer Institute pediatric ward, as well as the outpatients who frequent the hospital for medication and checkups. Our visits included prayer for the children, as well as assisting them with physical needs, and encouragement and grief counseling for the parents.
Our program expanded to include weekly activities such as arts and crafts, story time, games, and more for the children.
Over time we added monthly Bible studies for the parents of the cancer patients. The Bible studies are conducted while Family members, friends, and volunteers occupy the children with activities, such as coloring, puppets, story time, arts and crafts projects, etc.
Thanks to kind sponsors and friends, we were able to begin supplying lunch after the Bible studies and activities for the children. The outpatients who attend our Bible study arrive at the hospital very early in the morning in order to queue up for their checkup or chemotherapy treatment. If they don't arrive early. they risk not get attended to that day and then having to return the following week for an appointment. Because of this, by the time lunch is served they are very hungry and grateful for the provided lunch.
In recent years we have added a sponsorship program, wherein companies or individuals may "adopt" a child of their choice and sponsor the medication and treatment of that child for a year, or however long they choose. This program has been very beneficial, resulting in some children no longer needing treatment and becoming cancer survivors!
Our current projects for pediatric cancer patients include:
- Conducting weekly activities for the children consisting of arts and crafts projects, puppet shows, games, special snacks, meals, etc.
- Conducting weekly Bible studies and grief counseling for the parents of the cancer victims.
- Distributing goods, such as milk, food, clothing, shoes, books, toys, etc., which we have solicited from concerned companies and individuals.
- Soliciting financial aid for the medical needs of the children. This includes our adopt-a-child program where a company or individual sponsors the treatment of a child of their choice for as long as they are able, i.e., a year or more.
- Sponsoring special meals for holidays and other occasions.
- Bringing hope, comfort, and love to the children and their families.
- Arranging for burials and finding sponsorship for the funerals (as many of the families are so poor that they cannot afford to properly bury their deceased child).
- Organizing and conducting programs and performances for special events, such as holidays, birthdays, Christmas, etc. We also attend events organized by the hospital, including National Cancer Consciousness week activities, "Relay for Life" with other cancer institutes/hospitals in the country, etc.
- Soliciting birthday and Christmas gifts for each of the children. The children make a list of what they would like for their birthdays or Christmas, and with the help of our friends and sponsors we supply the items requested.
Throughout the 10 years that we have been involved in this project, countless prayers have been prayed and tears shed for children whose bodies were fast failing. But despite the inexplicable pain and hardship these young ones have had to endure, at an age when most children are not even aware that such suffering exists, these young children and their parents have remained courageous and brave.
Regardless of their own difficulties, they reach out to support other children in similar or worse situations than their own. Parents extend comfort to other parents who are grieving over a lost child. They share what meager supplies they have with other parents who are struggling to make ends meet. When they have a surplus in funds, medicine, or other necessities, their first response is to give it to some other child in need. Their courage never ceases to astound us, and their cheerfulness humbles us.
If you have been touched, while reading about these precious children, we would like to extend the opportunity for you to participate with us in the easing of these children's suffering. If you would like to send a donation or assist in other ways, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
In the meantime, we would like to solicit your prayers for each of these special children and their parents. We believe that no matter what the obstacle or seeming impossibility, sincere prayer can help any situation. May God bless you and care for you and your loved ones.
Footnote: In appreciation of the Family's endeavors on behalf of the pediatric cancer patients, the Philippine General Hospital has awarded the Family International and its volunteers numerous plaques of appreciation and recognition for a number of consecutive years.
Originally Published in 2008.