CHILDHOOD is a time meant to be spent having fun. It’s the time when one is supposed to be in school and at play; a precious stage for learning and cherishing life in its purest, undegenerated form.
These are the delicate years when one is built to be strong and taught to be confident while being constantly wrapped in love. It’s a “magical place” where imagination is the limit, a place where one thrives in innocence, without fear, violence or suffering – ideally.
According to the World Health Organization, around 300,000 children aged 0 to 19 years old are diagnosed with cancer each year. The disease continues to be one of the leading causes of deaths among children and young adults globally.
In the Philippines, cancer remains a national health priority. The Department of Health said it is the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country after diseases of the heart and the vascular system, citing the Philippine Health Statistics in 2009.
Aside from government efforts, the country has also seen private groups step forward to counter the dreaded disease. One of them is the Friends of Cancer Kids in Iloilo Foundation, Inc. (FCKIFI).
Founded in 2014, the FCKIFI “started as Mga Kaibigan Ng Kabataang may Kanser (KKK), a non-stock, non-profit corporation” that aims “not to fight against children’s cancer, but to fight against the hopelessness that the kids with cancer and their family feel.”
Julia Adeline Gimenez, an FCKIFI coordinator, told Panay News that they raise their own funds to help improve the quality of life of indigent children with cancer and their families. These funds are used for the children’s medical treatment and activities for their emotional, social and physical well-being.
“Costly cancer treatment forces many children and their families to drop their plans for the future and just focus on surviving in the present…We try to help them financially by funding the chemotherapy of the kids, and emotionally by supporting them in every way that we can,” Gimenez said.
According to the organization’s website, giving hope is the “most important intangible contribution that KKK gives.”
“[We] let them feel that they are not alone and that they can turn to us for support,” it added.
The FCKIFI hosts annual Christmas parties for the kids. This year, the party’s main event is the FCKIFI’s Got Talent, an avenue for making memorable moments while showcasing talents of the kids and their family members.
“Another [one] is the granting of our wish list for the kids,” Gimenez said. The children were made to list down the gifts they want for Christmas and FCKIFI collected donations from people who wanted to help.
From toy cars to bike and rubber shoes, the simple gifts would surely put smiles on the kids’ faces – a simple act that would make a great difference.
The Christmas party is also where the kids get to meet their donors, making it “one of our most awaited and biggest events of the year,” said Gimenez.
“Being on my sixth year as a volunteer at the foundation, giving hope for our beneficiaries is a difficult task,” she added.
In Gimenez’s words, “gaining an angel” and “dealing with a loss” at the same time is a “tough process.”
Despite this, Gimenez still continues her work at FCKIFI because she believes in what the organization stands for – giving hope to the hopeless.
“It’s a worthwhile process. Over the years I have seen them (the kids) all grow and become strong and independent,” Gimenez said. And for her and her fellow volunteers, this is all that matters. (Photos from FCKIFI Facebook page/PN)
If you want to help kids with cancer, visit Friends of Cancer Kids (Iloilo) Foundation, Inc. office along #32 Marcos Street, San Pedro, Molo, Iloilo City or contact them at 0917-3031-400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.