(as narrated by Mansi Shah)
When I first met Tamanna*, she came across as a meek and timid girl who preferred staying indoors and listen to music. Only after a few conversations with her did I discover what she truly was!
Standing true to her name, Tamanna had many wishes, many aspirations, and a deep hunger to learn. She loved to spend hours on the computer, engaging her creativity and always coming up with beautiful designs on Paintbrush.
Another activity that she always looked forward to, was practicing her English. She would be thrilled every time she learned a new word to add to her vocabulary! Whenever somebody asked her, “How are you?” she would proudly reply, ‘I am fine, thank you. What about you?’ The grin on her face used to be a sight to watch!!
However, Tamanna was not really fine. She had cancer. Her illness made it difficult for her to walk. She suffered severe emotional and physical distress battling the disease and the side effects that came with the treatment.
Upon declaring her illness incurable, she was sent back home by the hospital. She did not want to go. Her parents were aware that they would not be able to provide their dying daughter with the facilities they received at the shelter home.
When Tamanna returned home, I kept getting regular calls from her father as she would demand to talk to me. Her father’s phone call to inform me about her demise was not unexpected, but saddening nonetheless. When he told me that Tamanna had asked for me before she died, my grief turned into regret. May be, what that little, dying girl wanted was some comfort of a face to which smile was the only response? And, I couldn't be there for her.
After birth, perhaps, death is the only other universal fact common to all forms of life. What comes into existence must, one day, perish. So while we’re busy living our lives like immortals, ignoring judgment day, death quietly lurks in the shadows.
In a country like India, with a population of over 1 billion, it is estimated that millions of people are diagnosed with terminal illnesses, every year. A significant proportion of this is children. There are thousands of children like Tamanna in India who are fighting for their lives as they suffer from terminal diseases such as Cancer, HIV etc. Amongst them there are children who will not live to enjoy the next festival or their birthday, let alone their adulthood. While in their imagination they may be playing strong in a football ground or running around in the house with their dolls, in reality, their bodies have been weakened by heavy doses of medicines, painful injections, stressful chemotherapy and radiation sessions.
But a little love, a smile returned, a thoughtful deed can go a long way in helping these children overcome their pain, even if it is just for a little while, and help them enjoy life to the fullest, even if it is just for a few days. Despite their medical challenges, if they are given the opportunity to live their life, they embrace it with all their might.
We believe, this calls for a place where life is celebrated, however short it might be. A safe haven where the sound waves reverberate with giggles and songs and happy stories. A place where terminally ill children are seen as little bundles of joy that are full of life, and not as someone who is dying.
Sadly, no such place currently exists in India.
* Name Changed
And this gives a purpose to our lives - to celebrate the lives and times of these little children.
Presenting, Happy Feet Home - a first-of-its-kind hospice for children. A hospice that will be as colourful, lively, bright and happy as the authentic state of a child. The focus – to live every moment to its fullest.
Happy Feet Home will provide the following services to the children at the daycare hospice. These services will be free of cost for all.
- Activities – Recreational and engaging activities will be planned by trained professionals that will be child centric and safe for the children.
- Therapies - based on art, music, play and dance will be a part of the daily activities at Happy Feet Home.
- Counseling - One-on-One, group and family counseling will be offered at Happy Feet Home.
- Respite Care - Allowing a parent to take some time off and relax knowing that their child is in safe hands and is well taken care of.
- Bereavement Support - This is extended to the grieving families after the child leaves the world. This helps them to cope up with the loss and move on in life.
Thank you, Sion Hospital!!
The pediatric department of Sion Hospital understood our intention and has agreed to work in partnership with Happy Feet Home. Sion hospital is providing us with 1200 sq.ft. of space and medical staff to run the daycare hospice as well as active mentor-ship under Dr. Mamta Manglani (Prof. Head of Pediatrics)
We are also proud to announce that HFH is registered with The International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN), a worldwide network of individuals and agencies working with children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.
Moreover, we are also investees with UnLtd India which provides incubation support to social entrepreneurs.
Here are the designs we have in mind.
We hope to create a hospice as bright and joyful as the mind of a child, as you can see from the attached designs. These designs are created keeping the comfort and safety of the children in mind right from the colour scheme to the creativity on the ceiling.
Activity Room - 2
(images are for representational purpose only)
And you can play a role too.
We need to raise a total of $160,000
Below is the break-up of how we plan to utilise $160,000.
|HEAD OF COST||SHARE|
|Set up cost (One time)||51.1%|
|Activity Material Cost||2.3%|
The break-up of cost is for the first year of operations.
If you believe that life, no matter how long or short, needs to be celebrated. If you believe in living the moment, if you believe in creating moments that will be cherished forever, if you believe in us and in our dream, please support us!
- Prof. Dr. Mary Muckaden
- Prof. Dr. Mamta Manglani
- Mrs. Sunita Jadhav
- Ms. Bhavisha Sanadhya
- Dr. Bela Doctor
- Mr. Muthuraman Natarjan
- Ms. Mansi Shah
- Mr. Abhishek Tatiya
Links to refer
Huffington Post also covers Happy Feet Home
The Metrognome also believes in Happy Feet Home
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Website - www.happyfeethome.org
Script - Ashwita Hosbettu
Screenplay & Animation - Rahul Kallankandy & team
Music - Kunal Chaudhry
Camera - Clyde & Karen
A special thanks to everyone from Sing A Smile