According to figures from the Ministry of Health of Yucatan, at least 400 patients in the state were diagnosed with childhood cancer during 2016. Basically, the state capital is the only place where they can undergo the proper treatment; these children come to Merida once a month or sometimes every two months to receive their chemotherapy sessions, therefore, they are considered as outpatients, and must seek accommodations.
Although there are shelters that receive children and adults in vulnerable situations with an illness, the state does not yet have a shelter with sufficient capacity to receive exclusively children with cancer.
From this need, arises the Asociación Hogar de Ángeles, a Private Assistance Institution that offers lodging, food, transportation, emotional and psychological support to these children and their families so that they feel welcomed and accompanied during this difficult process.
Given the lack of spaces for children with cancer from indigenous communities and rural areas to stay while they wait for their cancer treatments, “Hogar de Ángeles” emerged as a unique care center able to solve this problem.
The story of Pedrito, a 4-year-old boy who needed to spend several days in Mérida while he was undergoing treatment for advanced stage brain cancer, motivated María Cristina Rosado Garma and her family not only to host the child at their own home, but also to create a place to temporarily host children in the same situation.
It is known that treatment for leukemias such as acute lymphoblastic can take up to three years, time in which children must stay up to five days a week in Mérida to receive medical care.
Due to their socioeconomic condition, it is practically impossible for them to go back and forth between their hometown (somewhere in the Yucatan Peninsula) and Mérida; these patients definitely needed a place where they could stay with their parents or relatives during that period of time.
“In Merida we do not have any type of hostel or special accommodation for these low income cancer patients, so a group of social workers and volunteers started looking for houses for some of these children to stay, because after their chemotherapy sessions, patients must rest in an independent place to avoid any kind of infection by bacteria and viruses, since their immune system is weak” Cristina Rosado told Diario de Yucatán.
And so, Cristina, who runs a small family business along with her husband and children, decided to form a group of volunteers and create a home where these vulnerable kids and their parents could receive not only shelter and accommodations, but also adequate food for the patient’s nutritional requirements, as well as free psychological and spiritual guidance and support. And that’s how “Hogar de Ángeles” came to exist.
According to data from the Yucatán State Ministry of Health, between 120 to 140 new cases of childhood cancer are detected every year, which add up to the 750 that already exist. Of this total, 50 percent of cancer victims come from within the state of Yucatán, and the other 50% come from different indigenous and rural communities in Campeche, Quintana Roo, and even Belize.
In January 2017, The Yucatan Times conducted an interview with Mr. Carlos Franco, a generous soul and one of the project leaders. This is what he said to us:
“Officially opened one year ago in the west side of Mérida, near most of the public hospitals that offer oncological services or subrogate them, “Hogar de Ángeles” is described by its founders as “a mission of love and hope”.
“One of the great reasons to develop this project is to learn to be grateful with God and with life, for granting us the privilege of having a family, health, and employment,” Carlos said.
“Endorsed by a Private Assistance Board of Yucatecan people, this lodge has individual bedrooms where children can comfortably rest and properly recover after each treatment. Hogar de Ángeles also provides lodging for parents, who usually have to spend the night anywhere near the hospital, without being able to bathe or eat for lack of economic resources”.
“One of the main goals of this project is to make society aware of the precarious situation in which these people live and invite them to support this cause in any way. When we put our time and effort in favor of these children, the fact is, we are not giving but we are receiving”, Carlos emphasized.
“And you receive, he added, because every boy and girl who suffers from cancer and who arrives with us, is a warrior in battle against an invisible yet powerful enemy. These kids teach us to value what we have, and how our help can change lives”.
“So, one day I came home and told my family, it’s time to do something, it’s time to give, to make an important change in our lives by helping these Little Angels in their everyday struggle”.
“A group of volunteers, from people without academic instruction, to students and professionals from different branches have joined this cause based on “constant work, trust and absolute commitment.”
“Initially, the social service workers, doctors and nurses of the cancer treatment units at public hospitals where these angels are cared for, were the main promoters of our shelter. They used to refer children and their parents to us. But today, after one year of hard work, more and more people is joining our cause, and cancer patients from Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Belize, Chiapas and other places, suddenly started knocking on our door.”
Carlos Franco continued:
“In addition to lodging and specialized nutrition for each child prescribed by a nutritionist who helps them to gain weight and improve their defenses, parents receive talks or participate in workshops — without invading their personal life spaces — to help them to cope with the illness of their children”.
“Besides, “Hogar de Ángeles” provides tranportation for the children from the shelter to the cancer treatment centers and back, preventing them from contracting diseases. In fact, these people don’t have money for a taxi, and they do not know their way around the city, so this is a great help for them”.
“Initially, we used to provide support for children who were going through a several days treatment, but we noticed that many patients come from other cities in the morning and need a place to rest for a while before going to their appointment in the afternoon, so we provide them with a bed and a meal for the day.”
“Another feature of Hogar de Ángeles, is the special attention we provide to mothers who, after the child’s first chemo, need to rest for a while, in order to be attentive for later sessions, and sometimes they have to go back to the hospital during early morning hours.
“We have developed many ways in which people can help this cause, people can donate money, clothes, food, or they can donate the most precious thing in the world, a little bit of their time.
“Everybody is welcome to visit Hogar de Angeles, we are located on Calle 34 interior # 250 x 5c y 7; Colonia Pensiones (right next to the Clínica Pensiones), in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico. Pay us a visit and see for yourself what a wonderful project we had been able to consolidate with great effort.”
On Sunday February 12, as part of the “International Day Against Children’s Cancer”, Hogar de Angeles is organizing a fundraiser, you can purchase a kit of t-shirt, cap and thermos for $150 pesos ($7.50 USD), and all proceeds will go to Hogar de Angeles.
Would you like to help us, but don’t know how? Join our team of volunteers and give these angels some of your time and talent.
With your help, we will achieve our main goal: to improve the quality and life expectancy of children with cancer in the Yucatan.”
Make some time for these Angels, as they always have time for you
Cel/Whatsapp: +52 (999)1633310 / (999)2479184
Ph.- Office +52 (999) 291 7256
Account number: 65-50502125-9
CLABE: 014910655050212599 (money transfer)
For more information go to: http://hogardeangeles.org/
Interview with Carlos Franco by Alejandro Azcárate for The Yucatan Times
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