CCC House: A home away from home

Published : 9:00 am  December 21, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 

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The National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Maharagama is a place where varied emotions are observed. Shaven heads and looks of despair on the faces of both adults and children; a common sight. Within the hospital premises however is a place alive with hope; The Courage Compassion Commitment (CCC) House, a non profit organisation based in Sri Lanka and Australia supporting NCI to provide much needed care for those battling cancer.   

The CCC House is a 188-bed cancer transit home for outpatients at the NCI. Modelled after a similar concept practised at the Ronald McDonald House in Australia, the facility is the largest of its kind in Sri Lanka. Established through a tripartite agreement among the NCI, Ministry of Health and the CCC, it facilitates cancer patients of all ages from across the country.   

Today the establishment is a fully equipped transit home providing all facilities required by patients confronting the toughest challenge of their lives

At the time of our visit, the facility was almost unoccupied. The Manager of CCC House, Laksiri Fernando informed us that this was because most patients visit the hospital during the morning hours for their treatment. “The patients we provide for at the CCC House are those who have to obtain treatment from the hospital regularly. We accommodate patients from as far as Jaffna,” he said. The process of admission and discharge at the CCC House takes place through referrals from the consultant doctors at NCI, while the registration at CCC House and discharge is handled through the wards at the hospital.  

Tusitha Kumarakulasingham of the CCC House Management Committee believes that Former Director of NCI, Dr. Kanishka Karunaratne and Founder and Chairman of CCC House Jetha Devapura were the driving force behind the establishment of the facility. The CCC initiative was first registered as Care for Cancer Children to assist children fighting cancer at the NCI. Their work included several projects to support the paediatric wards of the NCI which included knowledge transfer programmes between the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Melbourne and the NCI. Their work was dedicated to provide the best practice in paediatric oncology treatment and care to benefit child and adolescent patients at the NCI.   

Their vision and commitment to serve beyond paediatric cancer treatment is clear to anyone who steps inside the facility. In 2007, following recommendations from experts, the CCC Foundation envisioned the CCC House, a transit home with almost 200 beds at an estimated cost of Rs.180 million. Even though it seemed an impossible task at that time, Phase 1 of the CCC House, consisting of 100 beds was completed in 2010 where child cancer outpatients of the hospital were able to move to CCC House with their care givers, which was soon followed by adults.  

Today the establishment is a fully equipped transit home providing all facilities required by patients confronting the toughest challenge of their lives. The expansive land provided by the Ministry, adjacent to the hospital building, affords patients the convenience of access, vital for their well-being. All meals are provided by the hospital. Each floor of the building has spacious dining rooms where patients can take their meals in a relaxing environment. The first level of the CCC building has direct access to the ground floor of the hospital. We were told that these rooms have been reserved for children in need of wheelchairs. On the day of our visit, 44 out of 45 beds were occupied by children. The total count of patients at the premises was 119.   

As we walked through the wards of CCC House, we came across the most inspirational sight. The names of four children residing at the CCC House were written on a notice board opposite a room, where they were sitting for their Ordinary Level Examination. Along with officials from the Department of Examinations, a parent of one of the patients sat outside the room anxiously waiting for his child to return from the examination centre.   

We learned that four students sat for the GCE O/L examination last year too and all of them obtained brilliant results. One of the students in fact had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at the time of the examination

We learned that four students sat for the GCE O/L examination last year too and all of them obtained brilliant results. One of the students in fact had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at the time of the examination. But with a special arrangement with the Department of Examinations the child was able to write the exam while an invigilator from the Department sat with her within the ICU.   

How you can help

Stories of such courage and determination are many at CCC House. The good news is that you too can be a part of their story. According to the Management Committee the maintenance of the establishment costs Rupees 1 million per month. CCC House operates completely through the efforts of volunteers. The Manager of CCC House said the facility operates with a bare minimum of staff operating on shifts. This includes a nurse and an assistant who monitor the health of patients at the transit home.   

The CCC Foundation now seeks to build the CCC Trust Fund, so that the establishment is ensured sustenance. Cancer could take any one of us. “When the hospital started they had 800 beds for more than 1,000 patients. Early cancer patients generally have to come for day treatment which usually involves chemo therapy or radiation therapy. However these treatments have come with numerous side effects which patients struggle to cope with. Some of these patients cannot afford to travel or seek accommodation elsewhere or know who to trust. Unfortunately there are lots of people who swindle patients even at these hospitals. Under such circumstances, these day care patients had no option but to stay in corridors, inside the ward, on floors or even chairs, before this facility was built. A cancer patient’s immunity drops significantly during their treatment. A brief cold for us could mean the end of life for a cancer patient. Therefore this was not acceptable but the hospital had no other choice,” Kumarakulasingham explained.   

“We want to continue with the same standards. We need about one million rupees each month to continue our services. Lots of people come and give by means of alms-givings which we encourage. But maintenance of the place including janitorial services, security and other utilities require funds. We make sure that they are in a comfortable and hygienic environment,” she added.   

There are many ways you can get involved to make a difference at the CCC House, from sponsoring a bed to supporting mental health through CCC Line. The maintenance cost for a bed at the CCC House is a mere Rs.160 per day. Donors are therefore able to choose from packages ranging from one month up to an entire year. You can also support their various fundraisers and also volunteer at the CCC House.   

It’s the season to give and give back. Whether you give time, goods, money or support, the dedicated staff at CCC House will make sure your contributions will make a lasting impact in someone’s life this season. So why not take a little time away from all the festivity and celebration and support the CCC House, where a little goes a long way. Your donation will not only help the continuity of the services at the CCC House but also help improve the survival rate and emotional well-being of cancer patients at the NCI.  

Pix by Damith Wickramasinghe 


Donations can be made through the following methods  

Dialog users can make a general donation through their mobile phones:   
Type CCCH (SPACE) (Amount) and send to 77100  
Cheques:
Could be sent to:
CCC Foundation Sri Lanka  
Suresh Mendis  
C/o. Classic Travels (Pvt) Ltd.,  
379/4, Galle Road Colombo 3
Direct Debit:
CCC Foundation Sri Lanka  
Commercial Bank – Foreign Branch  
A/c Name : CCC Foundation 
Sri Lanka  
CCC House Account: 1416440701  
CCC Line Account : 1030025894  
Swift code: CCEYLKLX  
For more information please visit website: cccfoundation.org.au.  


 

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