In August 2007, I met Samiksha and her mother at the Oncology Centre of a major hospital at Bangalore. 6-year old Samiksha bubbled with energy, constantly ran around, chatted incessantly and sang songs, all with a mask on her nose and mouth. It was difficult to believe that she had cancer.
On striking up a conversation with the mother, I learnt that all the other children sitting there suffered from different types of cancer and plasma-related diseases. None of them went to school, because of the fear of contracting infection, the treatment pattern and the behaviour of the disease itself. Their parents faced a difficult challenge looking after them constantly, entertaining them and keeping them engaged, apart from all other things that parents have to do. It was an intricate task for the caregivers, since cancer affected children at that early age are as demanding and vivacious as any other child.
The idea of an exclusive learning and activity centre for children with cancer struck me then. It would be a place that would look at boosting the happiness quotient of both the children and their concerned caregivers. Children could come here and make new friends while learning, playing, reading and participating in activities organised at the centre. They could even keep up with their studies using the learning tools and opportunities provided. Outings for children and their families could be joyous experiences while helping them connect to the environment. This could also be a place where friends, relatives could visit them, away from the hospital environment.
The Foundation is named after this 6 year old whose story inspired me to start on this mission.
(Architect and Interior Designer by Profession and Education, Visiting Faculty Architecture and Social Entreprenuer
Holds the position of Founder and Trustee at Samiksha Foundation)