“People think hospices are places where children come to die. We always say our child comes here to live.”
It’s Raksha Bandhan Activity Day at Haven House Children’s Hospice, and I’m talking to the mother of a little girl who truly finds the house a haven.
This is the third year Haven House has hosted an event for Raksha Bandhan, a Hindu festival to celebrate the sacred bond of love and affection between siblings.
Haven House provides care for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions—those who are unlikely to reach adulthood. “But it’s so much more than that,” the mother tells me.
Haven House provides a range of services not just for children, but also their family members. Haven House Buddies is a regular support group for siblings. “Siblings can find it hard to deal with their feelings about the illness of a brother or sister and individual support is offered for children who need extra support at difficult times.”
Inside a decorated marquee brothers and sisters sat together, watching Mr. Zippy the magician, sharing their Indian food, and displaying love without uttering a word. There were also activity booths to enjoy—making and decorating 3D elephants, rangoli bracelets, and paper garlands.
Raksha Bandhan translates roughly to “a bond of protection”, and perhaps nowhere else was this more evident than in the families present at Haven House that rainy day of August 11th.
“What stood out for me this year was that some of the parents had asked if they could bring their own siblings, so the grounds at Haven House were alive with brothers and sisters both young and old,” said Judi Porter, Non Clinical Team Leader and organiser of the event.
For a South Asian community in which children with life-threatening conditions are often stigmatized, Haven House is a safe place for families to share their true feelings, fears, and accomplishments.
Haven House’s community services include:
TOTS–a group for pre-school children to enjoy activities such as singing, sensory and messy play
Toy Home Loan–a free lending service of specialist toys and equipment for children with additional needs to use at home
Community Play Specialist–a member of the Haven House Care team who provides therapeutic and stimulating play within the family’s home tailored to each child’s individual needs
For more information & how to help, visit the Haven House Web site