A Mumbai-headquartered NGO founded in 2006 by Shyama and Nihal Kaviratne and a dedicated group of volunteers is winning hearts with its good work in the field of cancer treatment. The NGO St. Jude India ChildCare Centres (popularly called St. Judes) works alongside the Tata Memorial Hospital, AIIMS, New Delhi, the Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata, and the cancer hospitals in Hyderabad, Jaipur, Mumbai, Vellore, and Kolkata. The NGO which started as a very small family unit center with just 8 seats in 2006 has grown to become a multicity initiative.
The NGO offers a home away from home to underprivileged families during their child’s treatment for cancer. Hygiene, good nutrition and a positive environment are all necessary to ensure holistic care during treatment. Without a clean place to stay and other support they can succumb to opportunistic infections and parents often abandon treatment because of the difficulty in coping under difficult circumstances. They run 35 centers across 7 cities now with over 435 children and their parents under its care by 2018.
At the October 2011 conference of the International Society for Paediatric Oncology, it was concluded that the NGO helped achieve a significant decrease in early treatment abandonment rate, morbidity, and mortality among child patients with cancer.
St. Judes claims that they are totally dedicated in the work they are into and put their focus on the treatment of cancer. A senior spokesperson of the NGO told Financial Express Online that “our mission and work rests firmly on our core value, that high quality and holistic healthcare facilities should be available to everyone regardless of their economic status.”
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The NGO’s nutritional support aids in ‘increase in the blood count’, ‘better immunity to deal with the harsh treatment,’ and ‘weight and height gain.’ The NGO has been a gift to many and is spreading awareness regarding cancer through the children they treated in all these years. Also, they help maintain the social spirit of the patients alive by involving them in social activities and help them establish them back into society easily when they are cured of online.
Also, since the children who undergo cancer treatment have to stay with the NGO for a long duration and thus have to skip school during treatment. Keeping in mind the overall growth of the patients the NGO provided the children with supplementary education at their centers through full-time teachers who primarily focus on Maths, English, and Science.
Sneha Pawar a girl from Satara, Maharashtra came to Mumbai at the age of 11 in the year 2007 for the treatment of sarcoma. The little girl went through six months of treatment at St. Judes. After all these years she still visits the NGO center where she was taking treatment as it became a home away from home for her. She is working with Tech Mahindra in Pune and visits the Mumbai center once in a year for regular check-ups as guided by the NGO.
This initiative in the age where treatment of cancer is an expensive affair is prooving godly for many economically weak children by bridging the gap between what the hospital provides and what a child needs to recover and this is the reason why it is winning hearts of many.