Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery

by Faraja Cancer Support Trust
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Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cindy holding Kigen, a 9 yrl old cancer victor
Cindy holding Kigen, a 9 yrl old cancer victor

As we approach the end of the year, I am excited to share some news about what we have been up to at Faraja.
 
This moment of reflection brings with it immense gratitude for the men, women, and children who have done amazing things to help make the lives of patients with cancer and their loved ones a little more bearable. Our therapists give their professional services for free and our volunteers not only offer their skills but also their time to walk the journey of wellness with patients and caregivers. We are also blessed to have support from so many in the medical profession and beyond. Faraja is incredibly privileged to be a safe haven for so many patients and caregivers and for this, I am so very grateful. 

Our Eldoret center located within the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) is also doing very well and I would urge you to read more about our achievements in the sections below. For example, between May 2022 and August 2022, 2,420 people walked into Faraja Eldoret center and accessed general services such as reading books from the library and having a cup of tea. This is an 11% rise from the 2,174 people who walked into the center between January and April 2022. This reflects the return of patients and caregivers to physical activities after COVID and also an increase in our reach, owing to, but not limited to, our partnership with various hospitals, medical social workers, and our social media platforms.

This is also a year of firsts for us. It was our first time organizing a walk in September to commemorate childhood cancer awareness month. We raised over Kshs 8 million in support of our programs for children with cancer. Read more about this in our newsletter below. Our medical fund continues to offer financial relief to patients and families who require medical grants for treatment. This year, we have supported 116 patients at a total cost of Kshs 8,167,539. Out of these, 19 are children below the age of 18 years.

We have also continued to visit the children at Kenyatta National Hospital( KNH) twice a week for a combination of music and art therapy. We are grateful for the support we receive from the management and staff at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, in Eldoret.

Patients and caregivers are our who, but it is our well-wishers and donors that make up our how. You are an essential piece of the puzzle that allows us to give hope, help, and life to so many. Thank you for raising funds for us, sharing our posts on social media, telling people about us, and reading this newsletter.

Let me conclude by quoting Philosopher James Stanford, "
Health is a state of the body. Wellness is a state of being.”

Wishing you and your loved ones happy holidays and the best for 2023.

Best Regards,

Faraja Team 

A breast cancer support group in Eldoret
A breast cancer support group in Eldoret
Our free breathing therapy at Faraja Nairobi
Our free breathing therapy at Faraja Nairobi
Our 2022 Be Bold Go Gold Run for Childhood Cancer
Our 2022 Be Bold Go Gold Run for Childhood Cancer
Our crafts for cure program
Our crafts for cure program
Giving support to patients and their caregivers
Giving support to patients and their caregivers

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Gacore excited about the prospects of his future
Gacore excited about the prospects of his future

18-year-old Gacore, a teenager from DRC Congo was full of hope for a new life as a refugee in Uganda. But even the experience of being a refugee would not have prepared him and his family for the long trip that fate seemed to have planned.

Gacore first started experiencing pain inside his neck, which he thought was a case of a temporary stiff neck due to bad sleeping posture. But the pains persisted even with neck massages. He chose to ignore it which was a terrible mistake because the pain not only worsened but also progressed to the extent that he could no longer look over his shoulder or make the slightest of a turn with his neck.

As stubborn as the legendary teenager, Gacore still kept silent about his pain and continued to hope that it would somehow disappear. "When you are a refugee, you do not mumble about pain. You bare even the slightest discomfort because you do not have the luxury of dealing with it. Our basic needs are food...anything else is a luxury, even medicine." said Gacore who came for the interview with an interpreter. His native tongue is not English nor is it Kiswahili. He was however eager to get his story across and asked his nephew to accompany him in case he got tongue-tied. Luckily he did not. 

Reluctantly, he mentioned the swelling to his brother, who was with him in Uganda. The brother quickly summoned his mother from DRC to come "See Gacore" whose physical appearance was beginning to change. The day his mother arrived in Uganda, she flung her arms around her head and declared in French, “This boy is not well!”

Gacore's mother insisted that he needed medical attention and since she was planning to travel to Kenya, she brought Gacore with her. They were referred to a specialist doctor, who, after the check-up referred them to Kenyatta National Hospital. Kenya's Largest Referral Hospital. After a series of tests, he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus (throat). It would henceforth take the effort of both family and friends to get him treatment. 

Despite rallying the Kenyan and Ugandan refugee community, getting young Gacore the necessary cancer treatment was proving impossible. He is not Kenyan and does not possess a Kenyan identification card. It, therefore, became a challenge to get him subsidized cancer care through the National Hospital Insurance Fund. 

"There is a small community of refugees from DRC in Kenya. They are also struggling to make ends meet. They did what they could for my tests but when it came to treatment..." Gacore stifles a whimper and looks aside. The memories of his cancer journey became too painful for him. After a drink of water, he continued his narration. 

One of his mum's friends mentioned seeing a television feature about a cancer center in Parklands that helps people with cancer in Kenya for free. With his brother now with him from Uganda, they went out on a limb and took a public transport van ( called matatu) to Parklands and asked about us. Luckily he was directed straight to Faraja's wellness center within HCG-CCK Cancer Centre. 

“I met a lady called Hellen who asked me to fill some forms and take them to my doctor. Something inside me awakened. I had renewed hope. I finished Hellen's assignment in a day and was back at the center with my duly filled forms. I was then told to wait."

His mother needed to go back to DRC and left him in the hands of  Moses his 19-year-old nephew who brought him for the interview.

During the entire interview, Moses sat silently, but when Gacore talked about Faraja, he chipped in. “We all thought we would lose Gacore. We would go to bed not sure that he would be alive when we woke up.” Moses speaks quietly, looking at Gacore as he explains, “He was very sick, but Faraja paid for his treatments and injected life afresh in him.”

“I am just grateful. So many people helped me.” Gacore says and confirms that he is no longer in pain and is looking forward to starting school. “I want to be a mechanic, or machinery engineer.” Gacore smiles with renewed hope. “We can’t repay Faraja; we just pray that the people behind the organization will experience God’s abundant blessing.” Moses says, to which Gacore adds, “I pray for all of you, Dr Adash of HCG-CCK, the people at the offices, counselors, all of you.”

Gacore is one of the beneficiaries of Faraja's Medical Support Fund (FMSF) which has financially assisted patients through treatment from October 2017 to date. A total of 500 patients have been assisted at a total cost of Kshs 50 million ($422,000) 

Gacore with his nephew during the interview
Gacore with his nephew during the interview

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Our crafts for cure program
Our crafts for cure program

This week is GlobalGiving's Little by Little Campaign and we are excited to take part. A big win for us would be if you can come on board and support us by donating a gift of any size to our campaign. GlobalGiving is matching funds up to $50. 

Your support is pivotal in funding what we do. As a charity, we pride ourselves on being transparent with our funds and how we use our money.  To see our audited annual reports please click here.

Below is a highlight of some of our services.

Faraja in Eldoret – We started in Uasin Gishu County at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in November 2018. So far we have signed up over 2,000 patients and work closely with the hospital’s management. We offer free counseling, nutritional therapy, and exercise and have four regular support groups. We plan to add more therapies to meet the growing need for psycho-social support in Eldoret.  We have started giving milk and fruits to the children hospitalized in the Paediatric Ward (Shoe4Africa).

Medical Assistance – The Faraja Medical Support Fund (FMSF) was launched in October 2016 and achieved its target of raising Shs100m within a period of 24 months. This includes just over Kshs10m for the Fund in memory of Natalie Havelock which supports young mothers with breast cancer. Income from the fund of Kshs100m allows us to support treatment for over 100 patients every year forever. In the Pilot period,pre-October 2017, we supported 86 patients at a cost of Kshs9,924,120 and 90% of these patients are presently doing well. Since October 2017 we have supported 412 patients at a total cost of Kshs 41million and 84% of the patients are doing well.

Increased Support - It is our aim to increase programs that will add value to patients, especially during the current pandemic.  For this reason, we have increased our online support to include webinars and online therapies. We not only offer lunch to chemotherapy patients at Kenyatta National Hospitals’ clinic 23 but we also distribute milk and fruit to 5 including Level 9 pediatric wards.

To support us during April's GlobalGiving campaign, click the link below

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/farajacancersupportfund/ 

As always, your support is warmly received and appreciated.

Stay Safe

Cindy- Fundraising Manager

Our medical fund helps patients with cancer
Our medical fund helps patients with cancer

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Rai making home made bath bombs
Rai making home made bath bombs

The devastating impact of Covid-19 is undeniable. It has affected the people we support, the environment we operate in, and our organization. The implications of lockdowns and social distancing meant that parts of our face-to-face support had to stop, fundraising events were cancelled, and our income sadly decreased.

When it was dark, we had a group that shed much-needed and appreciated light that touched the lives of all cancer patients and caregivers who needed us the most, despite the pandemic. THAT IS YOU!

YOU showed us great kindness by going over and above to help raise funds to support our services, even when it was challenging for them to do so. From supporting walks, bike rides, marathons and runs, even making bath bombs!  We have been so touched by the goodwill shown by you and we can only account it to our mission and vision of being a safe haven accessible to anyone affected by cancer. 

You have empowered us to adapt quickly to new challenges and constraints. Thanks to their support, we created new programs to help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation in adults and children. Please read more about our diversional therapy for children with cancer in this newsletter.

Despite the challenges, from January 2021 to date, we have signed up 1,115 patients in Nairobi and Eldoret to receive vital emotional and practical support at our wellness centres.  Through our medical fund, we have offered treatment grants for 107 patients at a total cost of USD 9,573. Out of the 107, 19 are children below the age of 18 years. We have also visited the children at Kenya's Largest Referral Hospital Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) 45 times this year (6 times on Wednesday’s for storytelling and 35 times on Friday's for art therapy). This is in spite of the heightened movement restrictions enforced by the Ministry of Health. This gave hope to the children at a time when there was a lot of uncertainty and fear. At Kenya's 2nd largest referral hospital,  Moi Teaching and Referral,  we gave 900 packets of milk and 900 apples to the children this year, thanks to the outpouring of support and goodwill from donors like you. 

We are confident that we will emerge from this unprecedented time more effective in our work. We have never been more determined and committed to making sure people living with cancer and their caregivers get the support they need and at the right time. Thank you to our supporters, partners and friends for the vital part you are playing as we do whatever it takes to help people living with cancer live their lives as fully as they can. This newsletter is dedicated to you.

Giving Tuesday is in two weeks and we are asking you to help us end the year strong by taking part and donating to our charity. All donations will be matched and it’s a great way to end your Thanksgiving weekend. Remember no amount is too small and all proceeds will go towards supporting children and adults with cancer in Kenya. It is the ONE day that can make a difference!

Thank you once again, stay safe and positive always.

Warm Regards,

Cindy Ogana- Fundraising and Communications

Tobbias who run 645km to support kids with cancer
Tobbias who run 645km to support kids with cancer
Nancy summiting Mt. Kenya to help raise funds
Nancy summiting Mt. Kenya to help raise funds

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Faraja's 2019 Rafting Challenge
Faraja's 2019 Rafting Challenge

The last 18months or so have not been easy for most people and we have had to postpone most of the fundraising events that we would have had during this period. Despite this, we have been able to continue to provide services to patients and caregivers and our services have been adapted to take into account the new "norm".  

For example, we are resuming our face-to-face support groups though limiting the number to 20 people at a time and using technology to broadcast what is happening on the ground to an online audience. The advantage of this is that we are able to reach those who cannot travel/attend physically. In addition, we are in talks with the various private, mission, and government hospitals to create "outreach support groups." and to provide some services such as counselling and nutrition virtually. With the state-run hospitals now receiving more support in terms of treatment facilities for cancer, there will be less need for patients to come to Nairobi and we, therefore, need to be able to extend our reach. We want to be there to support them for free, as is our mandate.

To ensure that these programs run, we have decided to go ahead and plan a one-day white water rafting challenge on Saturday 9th October 2021 at Savage Wilderness Camp in Sagana.

It will be a ONE DAY EVENT and will have only 22 teams in strict adherence to covid 19 protocols. We aim to raise Kshs 3 million for programs that now include outreach and community-based activities. Due to the reduced number of participants and the event only taking place in one day, we will be charging Kshs 150,000 registration fee for a team of 5.

This amount will not only enable us to reach our target but we believe, will significantly impact our services in the last quarter of this year and the beginning of next year. A higher registration fee than in previous years is necessary in order to meet an increase in logistical costs due to the effects of the pandemic. Remember, it is only together that we can help fight cancer. 
 

Stay safe always
Best Regards,
Faraja 

 

 

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Organization Information

Faraja Cancer Support Trust

Location: Nairobi - Kenya
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FarajaTrust
Project Leader:
Olivia Shah
Nairobi, Kenya
$76,388 raised of $100,000 goal
 
512 donations
$23,612 to go
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