“Home isn't where you're from, it's where you find light when all grows dark.”
As an answer to the distress call from mothers and child cancer patients mainly from rural areas, the Cancer Association of Namibia has established the CHICA home. 'Children with Cancer in Namibia' or 'Children Fighting Cancer in Namibia' is CAN's wing focusing on child cancer.
This interim home is the first of its kind in Namibia,offering a safe haven for childhood cancer patients and their afflicted families fighting cancer.
CHICA will serve as an interim care home, and also to help the mother prepare for returning home (i.e. we give training for moms on hygiene, food preparation and nutrition.) We are committed to providing guidance to both mother and child on how to continue the difficult journey of cancer on a psychological and practical level.
Mothers are allowed a maximum stay of 2 weeks in the hospital with their kids while the little ones are receiving treatment. A mother who is not breastfeeding her child (despite her age!),must then leave the little one in the ward and fend for herself.
This becomes costly; the mothers return to the villages or towns and the kids are left alone in the ward.We believe in a multi-disciplinary and holistic healing approach in addition to medical treatment – this includes the psychosocial aspects of the cancer treatment and healing process. This remains imperative: a mother needs to be with her child!
This is one of the core reasons for the CHICA home. Secondly, many kids can actually get an interim bill of good health to be intermediately discharged to a “safe house” during treatment. Kids do not need to be in the hospital all the time while waiting from treatment. Sometimes they are simply staying there because of logistics and lack of resources to travel. Often times these kids go home and come back malnourished and the immune system compromised; we then have a reverse treatment scenario and kids die unnecessarily!
the way forward
Finally, CAN has conculded significant talks with the MoHSS, and WARD 8 WEST at Windhoek Central Hospital, to ensure there is improved access control. We aim to use some of the funds to construct a new entrance to the ward. We have noticed too many people just “pass in and out” without the necessary protection, hygiene and education. It`s vital to spread awareness amongst Namibians in gaining a deeper understanding of a cancer survivor`s fragile immune system. Children’s’ health is unnecessarily compromised and we plan to adress these issues throughout the year.
Why is the CHICA home important?
A Namibian need
It was formed to create an increased awareness and knowledge of childhood cancer signs and symptoms among the general public.
For this reason, the centre will also create a platform where parents and guardians can learn how to take care of the child patients once they have been discharged. Not enough attention is always given to the parent/ guardian; the patient's illness may leave a deep psychological impact on their ability to fully care for the patient. Watching children become sick is never easy, which is why CAN promotes uplifting activities and counselling sessions for the parents.
( Excerpt from the Namibian, 2017-02-15)
At an initial investment of close to N$3,2 million, the Cancer Association of Namibia is thankful to the Namibian public for the support bestowed during fundraiser initiatives to help full our trust account enabling CAN to invest in the fight against cancer in this manner.
CHICA is situated in Windhoek West, near to the CAN Head Office and adjacent from House Acacia Interim Home.
Acacia House was established in 1986 with 9 beds at John Meinert Street, Windhoek West. The exclusive purpose of this interim house was to accommodate out of town cancer patients (mainly from rural areas) undergoing treatment at the Dr AB May Cancer Treatment Centre.
The acacia tree, due to its ability to grow a new branch if an old one was injured or removed, was chosen as a symbol indicative that there is always hope after contracting cancer.
Ten years later, a serious lack of space developed and Acacia House was extended to accommodate 21 beds. Linen and towels are provided. Today patients stay in Acacia House free of charge, allowing one companion per patient at a cost of N$50.00 per day.
Three wholesome meals are prepared daily and served to patients and companions. Patients are transported to and from hospital daily, also free of charge.
Acacia House offers sufficient space and quiet areas for privacy, reading and meditation. A pleasant lounge, with television, is available where patients can stay updated with current affairs or watch their favorite programs. Patients often stay in Windhoek for up to 6 consecutive weeks for their treatment, which is available in Windhoek only.
Every effort is made to create a tranquil atmosphere which is conducive to healing.
Part of our public drive includes press conferences and project launches at Acacia House, so the public and the media can be exposed to the interim home.