On April 8, 2018, the Play Centre of the Korail Slum Palliative Care Centre was officially opened. To celebrate the occasion, a creative writing and drawing competition for students of local schools in the Korail community was organized.
The Children’s Palliative Care Project is a community-based project to provide palliative care for children with serious or life-limiting conditions in the Korail Slum. The project incorporates the model of compassionate communities, seeking to engage the Korail community to work together to address the problems faced by children and families needing palliative care.
In March, an awareness programme was arranged for school teachers from the local primary schools within the community, to make them aware of the needs of children with disabilities and increase their understanding of how to integrate these children into the local school community. Many times children with disabilities are excluded from schools, and they do not have many opportunities to play with other children.
After this teachers program, schools were invited to participate in a children’s creative writing and drawing competition to raise awareness among their student about the importance of supporting children who are sick or disabled. More than 250 students participated, submitting their drawings and speeches on the theme of “Imagining the Future”, meaning both their own future, but also their hopes for the future for sick children.
In their creative writing submissions, many children imaged a world where all people live peacefully together and there is no injustice. Children described their hopes that everyone can support each other and there will be no discrimination against sick children or poor people. Some children imagined being a fish or a bird or a butterfly and experiencing the world in a different way. The students drew pictures of children playing together, including children with disabilities or illnesses.
The winners of the competition were celebrated at the opening ceremonies of the Play Centre and received prizes of books and art materials. Local community leaders, school representatives, and staff from the Centre for Palliative Care at Bangabandu Shiekh Medical University, the hospital which is partner on this project, were also present for the opening ceremony.
Korail Slum is the largest informal urban settlement in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with an estimated 140 000 inhabitants. Although, there are many non-governmental organizations operating in the slum, there were no programmes to support seriously ill children, until the Children’s Palliative Care Project was started in 2017. The project supports children living with life-limiting illnesses and their families by providing community-based palliative care.
Since starting the project, we had a plan to open a Play Centre, since there are no playgrounds or other safe places for children with physical disabilities to play in the Korail area. The new Play Centre will provide these children with a safe and enjoyable place to play, interact with their peers and have fun. The centre is staffed by Palliative Care Assistants (PCAs) who will provide developmental stimulation and physiotherapy at the centre as well.
Emotional and social support
The children in the palliative care project also receive regular home visits from the PCAs. Each child and family is assigned a primary PCA who visits the child and provides basic nursing care, physiotherapy, and emotional and social support.
All families in the program receive a monthly food packet, containing rice, lentils, oil and salt, which ensures that their basic needs are met. Additionally, the cost of medicines needed by the child are supported by the program. The children are also visited by the palliative care team’s physicians, nurses, and physiotherapist.
There are many more children in the slum who could benefit from this project, but the funding for the project is limited at this time. For individuals wishing to support this project, please contact Dr. Megan Doherty.
Author: Dr Megan Doherty