Published on: September 23, 2019

Vyshnavi V K, Project Officer, Pallium India, writes:

A group of children, with a variety of expressions flitting across their faces:

Some are talking excitedly to their friends. Some are not sure what is happening. A few hold their parents’ hands firmly and wish to sit only next to them. Others are curiously checking their new green Pallium India T–shirts.

It was the morning of ‘Snehasparsham 2019’, a one-day get-together for the children of our patients, held at Mar Baselios college Trivandrum on 14th September 2019. The program was organized for ‘Unarvu’ (a support group of bereaved families) and ‘Kuttikkootam’ (Kids’ Collective comprising our patients’ children whose education is supported by Pallium India).

We decided to start with an ice-breaking activity for the group. As a project officer I rarely have an opportunity to interact with these kids. This was the first time I was meeting the two children’s support groups of Pallium India in a single platform. I tried to engage the children and their families by encouraging them to join in the singing and dancing, and to pep them up for what was to follow.

Is palliative care is meant only to patients who are suffering? What about their family members, especially children? We found our answers on this day.

Both these groups, managed by the volunteers of Pallium India, provide the children with a platform to display their skills, interact with their mentors to convey their problems or needs, seek advice on career opportunities, and much more, as well as having a great time with lots of fun and frolic, something that they miss in their daily lives.

It was such a delight to see one of our alumni members come with her two-month-old baby. Her husband sang a melodious song. The presence of twin sisters who have recently graduated with a B.Com degree was another source of happiness. Unfortunately, due to financial distress in the family, they had to take up a job with a gas agency on daily wages.

There was also a multi-talented alumni member Mr.Vyshakh, employed in an overseas education consultancy, who is keen on acting and has done a few short films; he is also a good photographer. The presence of alumni members who are currently pursuing higher education or are employed was truly heartwarming. Even though there are hundreds of alumni members who are part of the Pallium family, only a few could make it to this event.

PMI (Project Management Institute) team who have been supporting our children’s education program conducted an interactive session with the children’s group, especially with alumni members. The alumni group discussed their future plans and concerns with the PMI team who advised them appropriately that helped boost their confidence. Responding to Pallium India’s request, PMI has agreed to guide the alumni suitably so as to make them more competitive and employable, and to help them with better opportunities.

Besides games conducted for the students, there was a very valuable and captivating address to the students by Mr.Venu Kumaran Nair. He gave them tips to excel in their studies and the value systems that they need to inculcate to be successful in life.

Volunteers of Pallium India who were mentors to these children reviewed their progress and assessed them while interacting with them and their parents. Student palliative care and charity group of Mar Baselios college supported the event by providing their spacious auditorium free of cost and with active participation by their student volunteers. 250 people including family members of children attended the one day get together.

This event has prompted us to improvise our educational support services and focus on the needs of our alumni as well with the help of our existing support systems and new ones as we go along. The day concluded with a cake cutting ceremony to celebrate the birthday of one of our meritorious students, Shaheed. We are truly proud of these children who have brought about a positive change in the lives of their families.

Snehasparsham 2019 will remain etched in the lives of these children and all who participated, to be cherished for many more years.

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