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A caring home for cancer kids amidst concrete jungle

BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Feb 9: For the maiden time, a significant step has been initiated for the treatment as well as grooming of skills for children affected with cancer of the north-eastern States who come to Guwahati for treatment. This humanitarian project christened Deepsikha’s ‘Sishu Ashray Sthal’ is a home for cancer afflicted children. Initiated with the spontaneous response of like-minded people and generous aid from organisations, Deepsikha — a non-government organization — has been providing helping the family members of cancer patients in the entire process of securing succour. It ranges from finding a proper place to stay to the process of registration in the hospitals to undergoing the process of meeting respective doctors and procuring treatment, to acquiring blood in case of an operation to getting financial assistance among others.
It may be mentioned that official data show that thousands of children under the age of 16 every year are affected by cancer of various types. In fact, it has also been diagnosed as the leading cause of death for children under 16. In general, childhood cancers are different from cancer which affects adults.  Childhood cancers mainly include leukemia, bone, brain, and nervous system cancer, and eye cancers. Besides, despite the high-success rate of treatments, an initial childhood cancer diagnosis produces an understandable amount of shock, fear, stress, and anxiety as well.
There is a very high incidence of cancer among children in the north- eastern States. Due to the shortage of infrastructure for treatment, in most of the north-eastern States, people from all over the north eastern states come to the B. Barooah Cancer Institute, the Gauhati Medical college hospital and other private centres in Guwahati for treatment of their children. However, accommodation available for child patients in  the  hospitals at Guwahati  is not enough to accommodate all the patients. These patients who have to stay on for months together face major hardships in finding affordable boarding lodge. This results in a considerable amount of drop outs during the course of treatment which in turn leads to tragic consequences at times.
Presently, Deepsikha has two economically priced guest houses for cancer patients from Assam in Mumbai and a hospice at Mirza. Now it has going ahead a open a home for the cancer afflicted children at Bholababa path Six Mile in Guwahati. Talking to The Sentinel, Head of Deepsikha Debasish Sarma said, “Our dream has been to relieve the children afflicted with cancer by providing them a home. This dream will come true on February 11 when this house for the children will be inaugurated. The entire Deepsikha family has worked hard to realise this objective. We take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all our well-wishers on this occasion.”
It may be mentioned that SBI Life will sponsor the food to the inmates during the period.
The one-bigha plot of land at Six Mile, here for the ‘Sishu Ashray Sthal’  has been donated to Deepsikha by Keshab Ch Sharma and Binita Sharma. The construction of the building has been supported by the DONER Ministry Government of India and the Government of Assam. The land for the park has been donated by Didwania Ratanlal Charitable Trust, Mumbai. SBI life Insurance has confirmed their support towards the maintenance of the Sishu Ashray Sthal.

A temporary ‘home-away-from-home’, the ‘Sishu Ashray Sthal’ will be a free  family-centered residence cum school  with primary focus on providing a holistic support to children afflicted with cancer as they and their families face the   challenges of childhood cancer.  It will be a place where the children and their families from all over Assam and the north-eastern States of India  can come and avail free accommodation, food, transport to and from their centers of treatment along with a support system to battle cancer .
Besides this, these children will also be able to avail the facilities of a school specially designed to cater to their needs and situations with the sole aim of not letting them lose one academic year as a result of their prolonged treatment.
The aims and objectives are creation of a holistic support system for patients battling childhood cancer; providing preference to the poor and needy; and to render the occupants a homely atmosphere. During the many weeks and months of treatment as the children will be engaged in various activities like individualized  academic tutoring; yoga for children and for parents; group activities and family activities including birthday parties and special events;
holding of interactions with children from other schools; engaging them in art and crafts; celebrations of events; and organisation of social visits among others.