| Jun 29, 2021
Teaching Children with Cancer During a Pandemic
Children Learning the Parts of the Body in English
In 2018, Joyce, a teacher with training in child psychology, opened the Rainbow Family Home School for children with cancer at St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor. When she began working with the children, she observed that they were very sad because they felt rejected, unloved, and not valued. Their self-esteem was poor. She developed an educational curriculum that provided the children with lessons in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, and basic English as well as lessons focused on health and hygiene. She also addressed the children's lack of self-esteem by integrating social and recreational activities to promote life-skill building so that the children could become more self-confident and feel comfortable interacting with each other. Although the hospital administrative and medical staff were initially reluctant to have the school, they soon realized what a difference it made to the children’s quality of life.
Schools in Uganda were closed because of the global pandemic. St. Mary’s had to make necessary changes and implement procedures due to Covid-19. It was uncertain how the changes would impact the Rainbow Family Home School and the children. Fortunately, the hospital school was allowed to remain open, but it had to move to a nearby facility outside of St. Mary’s main campus to ensure that the hospital complied with government policies related to the need to reduce patient and visitor flow. It took the children some time to adjust to having their lessons at the new facility because they were used to having a classroom decorated with pictures and alphabets and having cupboards that stored their educational materials. The children had to learn to observe standard operating procedures (SOPs) to minimize their risk of developing Covid-19. The SOPs included the enforcement of strict hand washing, social distancing, avoidance of touching their noses, eyes, and mouths, and the use of masks for older children. They were a bit anxious at first, but with a thorough explanation about why the changes and SOPs were necessary, they settled in – thanks to Joyce. Children who returned for short stays or who required long stays at the hospital to avoid treatment delays were happy that the family home school remained open to enable them to continue with their studies since their schools at home were closed. This is a contrast to the days before the Rainbow Family Home School opened when the children received no education during lengthy hospital stays and missed going to school.
Joyce has made an extraordinary contribution to improving the quality of the lives of children undergoing cancer treatment at St. Mary’s Hospital and has helped them to adapt to the challenges imposed by the global pandemic. Your generous donations have made it possible to support her efforts and to provide the children with the educational materials and social and recreational activities needed during treatment that are so important to their overall sense of well-being. Thank you again for supporting this project!