BANGKOK: Jidapa Pinitpongskul, then 11 years outdated, thought the hospital was scary. She wished she had had a good friend there with her, somebody who might have made the expertise much less lonely and daunting.
“If there had been someone to play with me or ask me ‘How are you? Was it painful, sweetheart? Are you all right?’, it’d have felt so good,” she mentioned.
Jidapa is 53 now. Still, the loneliness and ache she skilled as a child in a Bangkok hospital stays crystal clear in her reminiscence. She was at all times an unhealthy youngster and had to endure an operation on the age of 11. Her mom would drop her off on the hospital alone for subsequent remedy periods.
“I felt like a sick kid who was left alone because nobody was there to look after me.”
Years of disagreeable hospital expertise made Jidapa perceive how children really feel when their lives revolve round sicknesses and medical therapies as an alternative of high quality time with household and associates. It additionally motivated her to be a part of a volunteer programme known as Happy Hospital, which strives to carry smiles to younger sufferers in Thai hospitals.
It is an initiative of the Mirror Foundation – a non-governmental organisation that has advocated social improvement in Thailand since 1991. The programme operates on a voluntary foundation and companions with eight hospitals in Bangkok and its neighborhood.
“Our first goal is to create happiness and ease suffering,” mentioned Jamjuree Saesue, who heads the project.
For greater than a decade, the 34-year-old has educated a lot of volunteers to work together with younger sufferers in native hospitals in order to ease their ache and create moments of happiness that each youngster deserves.
According to Jamjuree, a lot of children undergo continual illnesses that require prolonged therapies akin to leukaemia, most cancers and illnesses associated to the guts and bones. Many of them have to drop out of college, go away the consolation of their properties and spend months in the hospital, the place they’re pressured to endure painful therapies akin to chemotherapy, surgical procedures and blood exams.
“When they see a stranger, some kids would burst into tears because they’re afraid the person is a doctor or a nurse who comes to take their blood, medicate them or do something painful to them,” Jamjuree mentioned.
“So, volunteers have to explain we are there to play and that we aren’t going to hurt them, something like ‘I’m not going to take your blood or give you medications. Don’t be afraid.’”
TOUGH TIMES AMID THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The Happy Hospital project brings volunteers to visit young patients in different hospitals once a week. For one to two hours, they work with nurses to organise art and craft activities for the children to help them relax and develop their skills. Participants come from a variety of backgrounds, from university students to flight attendants, dentists and retirees.
“For children in hospitals, their chances of experiencing the outside world are limited. So, I want to add happiness into their lives and ease their suffering,” Jidapa mentioned.
“We never know how long they’ll be with us.”
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended the hospital visits since January this 12 months.
Its financial repercussions even have a major impression on mother and father of many younger sufferers. Prolonged hospitalisation and prolonged medical therapies already imply costly medical payments. Some mother and father had to stop their jobs in order to take care of their sick children.
“In terms of medical treatment, if the case is not urgent, it will be postponed. As for the financial situation, things have become more difficult for some families,” mentioned Jamjuree.
The National Statistical Office of Thailand (NSO) reported 37.58 million folks had been employed in the primary quarter of 2021 whereas some 760,000 others had been with out jobs.
Based on its information, the variety of employed labour dropped by 710,000 from the earlier quarter final 12 months. Moreover, greater than 4 million staff had been in a weak scenario, the place their working hours and earnings had been minimize.
“This could be a result of businesses trying to stay afloat without laying off employees but reducing their working hours instead,” NSO mentioned in a report final month. “If the economy recovers slowly and causes many businesses to shut, this group of people could slip into unemployment.”
To ease monetary burdens for folks, the Happy Hospital project additionally assists weak households that battle to cowl their children’s medical payments at its companion hospitals, transportation prices between their homes and the hospitals in addition to profession assist for folks with restricted alternatives.
A DREAM COME TRUE
Early this 12 months, the project expanded its work to assist terminally ill children make their desires come true.
One of the sufferers was a seven-year-old boy who had never been to the ocean. When he was identified with a terminal sickness, his nurse knowledgeable the Happy Hospital project of the boy’s dream, one which his mother and father couldn’t afford.
“He was super excited. He had never been to the sea. When we were on the expressway, he kept asking ‘Are we near yet? Are we near yet?’ and didn’t sleep at all. He was so excited to go to the sea,” Jamjuree advised CNA.
In January, they took him and his household to the Bang Saen seashore outdoors Bangkok. For the primary time in his life, the boy breathed the salty sea air, performed in the waves and dug in the sand. Although his well being circumstances didn’t enable him to play for long, Jamjuree mentioned his time on the seashore was stuffed with pure pleasure and pleasure.
“After the trip, his mother said his conditions improved. He was cheerful and things were good for a while. The boy was in high spirits, wanting to go to the sea again. It was like that for about a month before he passed away,” Jamjuree mentioned.
For the workforce behind the Happy Hospital project, it’s important for children in hospitals to have moments of happiness after they get to play like different children and neglect about their ache.
“Sometimes they said their pain level was eight or nine but after doing some activities with us, their nurses would ask ‘How much pain are you experiencing now, darling?’ and they would answer it’s down to three or four,” Jamjuree added.
“They get to forget their pain and illness, and have fun with activities, friends and people who give them attention.”