Portraits of Hope: Catching Moments of Inspiration and Courage from Kids of Hope
By Jojie Alcantara
The Portraits of Hope photo exhibit came out of an inspiration to share portraits from our years of bonding with these kids who are unfortunately afflicted with cancer. Every time we visit we took endearing moments of the children who were only too happy to share their smiles with you.
The Kids of Hope are children who stay at House of Hope (HoH) and the Children’s Cancer and Blood Diseases Unit at Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC). They are beneficiaries of all initiatives by Davao Children’s Cancer Fund Inc (DCCFI) founded by Dr. Mae Dolendo, lead pediatric oncologist of SPMC.
My partner, Rhonson and I have been celebrating our birthdays in House of Hope which is an old dorm within the SPMC Compound renovated to serve as a transient home for children with cancer. HoH has helped many patients since 2007, and has created a significant impact in the improved survival of most children with cancer by encouraging compliance to therapy and decreasing treatment neglect. Many children have benefited from its clean environment which enhanced the quality of life of those seriously ill. The patients are allowed two caregivers who in turn help keep HoH and its surroundings clean in exchange for a free stay.
While childhood cancer is curable, the treatment would span several months to years. The Filipino children’s major stumbling block to treatment and cure is the lack of access to health care institutions that can provide multispecialty care. Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) is the largest public hospital in Mindanao, and it presently has a Children’s Cancer and Blood Diseases Unit with a dedicated multidisciplinary team. Every year, around 150 new patients from all over Mindanao come to seek treatment. Majority of these patients are underprivileged with no place or family to stay in Davao during ongoing treatment.
House of Hope-Bangkal was a home donated by an anonymous donor which was converted as a transient home for patients undergoing treatment at SPMC. House of Hope-Margarita Village was a house converted into a 3-room home in the village in 2011 by then Vice Mayor Rody Duterte and friends. House of Hope- Tagum was inaugurated on August 2012 in Bermudez Subdivision of Apokon, Tagum City. Currently, a new building is being constructed beside the HoH SPMC Compound.
The concept of a transient home for children with cancer has inspired and touched the hearts of the community and is being observed as a model by foreign medical institutions. House of Hope has revolutionized the care of child cancer in Mindanao. A unique project of the Rotary Club of Waling-Waling Davao and DCCFI, these sanctuaries bring hope and healing environments for our children with cancer in the islands.
In my couple of years of visiting them, telling stories, teaching them how to draw and embracing them into my family, I have come to appreciate life in the smiling eyes of these kids I bond with. Through the help of the inspirational and untiring advocacy of Dr. Mae Dolendo, her colleagues in the medical field, staff, and the generous Ambassadors of Hope, these kids have plenty of HOPE to live and fight for. I also want to thank my friends who have been generous donors for sending toys and food their way during my activities in the HoH.
“Portraits of Hope: Catching Moments of Inspiration and Courage from Kids of Hope” is ongoing from February 4 until 15, 2015 at the Ground Floor of Robinsons Mall Lobby of Abreeza Mall in Davao City. It is a portrait exhibit of Rhonson Ng and I in celebration of World Cancer Day 2015 (February 4) and International Childhood Cancer Day (February 15).
Donations go to the House of Hope Foundation and Davao Children’s Cancer Fund Inc. (DCCFI) to assist in the medical treatments of these kids, and the photos will go to the new building. We extend gratitude to the support and assistance of Robinsons Abreeza and Fujifilm Philippines which produced the wonderful black and white prints on exhibit. Fujifilm also provided us with Instax fun prints for the kids and parents during my recent birthday celebration and cameras for the portrait session.
For more information, please visit www.kidsofhope.org, a website supported by a grant from World Child Cancer.
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(Jojie Alcantara writes, paints, shoots for her blog dabawenya.net. Beyond her solo travels and wild helicopter rides, she spends time in her own little world, creating bubbles of hope. She can be reached through email@example.com)