Krebsallianz partners with a psychosocial centre in Nepal
The Nepali Dirghaavei Voluntary Group, based in Kathmandu, aims to alleviate the distress of childhood cancer sufferers and their families. The founder, Samir Shrestha, began volunteering at 18 when he became aware of a lack of social care for children with cancer at the Chitwan cancer hospital in central Nepal. Now living in Kathmandu and with a social work degree to his name he opened the DVG Day Care Centre in September 2018.
In the past Krebsallianz partnered with the psychosocial centre kik, based in Cologne. The centre had to close due to a lack of funding and Krebsallianz began looking for a new psychosocial care partner. Part of our core mission is to alleviate the distress and suffering of cancer patients worldwide and the partnership with DVG in Nepal serves this purpose. At Krebsallianz we acknowledge the importance of psycho-social care in childhood cancer. A cancer diagnosis can greatly upset the balance of family life affecting all members involved.
Children who undergo cancer treatment are at a higher risk of developing mental health illnesses therefore creating a need for psychosocial support during and after their medical treatment.
It is important for children and their families to understand how to respond to a wide range of issue that come with their cancer diagnosis. A child will be confronted with their own mortality, their school work will be disrupted, they may experience physical changes, and rely a lot more on their parents. Family life will change as parents are forced to narrow their focus onto one child. Moreover, the financial burden of cancer treatment will be another stress factor for parents.
Psychosocial care guidelines state that children should spend time with healthy peers and cancer survivors to help their development. Practical support and counselling should be offered for patients and their families as both groups are at a higher risk of developing mental illness.
The Day Care Centre offers peer support and education, while it is working towards integrating counselling into its services. It's a place where childhood cancer patients and their families can meet others who are going through similar troubles. Their services are free for all family members affected by childhood cancer.
The centre is currently open three days a week. During their opening hours parents can come by with their children who are taken care of by a social worker and given food and drink throughout the day. Recently an art therapist joined the team and has been giving children art therapy sessions.
While children are taken care of in one room their parents sit together making crafts to sell for funds for the centre and talk about their concerns surrounding their child’s recovery and their own experiences. The team also organised a mother’s evening event to bring together mothers of childhood cancer sufferers. Future prospects for the centre include keeping the centre open for six days and introducing a bus service which can collect the children from home so that parents can also use their free time to work.
On top of the activities organised at the centre, Samir and his team of social worker volunteers regularly take the group on day trips. During a recent visit to Nepal, Krebsallianz joined them on a day out at the zoo. The excursion was a success with 26 parents and children attending.
We spoke to one of the parents there and he spoke of how his son lost a lot of confidence during his treatment. Now, two years after the initial diagnosis, his father notices a positive development when he is around the kids from the centre. He greatly values the work that Samir has done as meeting with other parents gives him an opportunity to talk to other parents about how they cope. Moreover, it has created a network of parents that help one another out when taking children to doctor’s appointments or sharing the cooking responsibilities when their children have to spend time in the hospital.