Beds for the Better: The Success of a Fundraiser for Palliative Unit Children

Two years ago, the Samaritan Association of Georgia launched a project at the Children’s New Clinic aimed at palliative care for children with inborn incurable diseases. Today, 25 children from four months to 12 years are hospitalized at the Clinic under constant attention and care. Irina Kldiashvili, Director of the Georgian Samaritan Association wanted to say a big thank you, through Georgia Today, to those who have not turned a blind eye to those children in need and who have helped the hospital and nurses create the much needed improved conditions for them. One ardent supporter and the initiator of this act is Katie Ruth Davies, Editor-in-Chief of our biweekly Georgia Today newspaper.

Irina Kldiashvili: “The project we started two years ago was the idea of one of our volunteers from Germany, Delia Jakubek, who had come to Georgia to work for a year.

When she saw the conditions of the palliative unit, she decided to help, and began to write a project to renovate it and bring it in line with European standards. We submitted the project to several organizations and one offered to assist in the first phase of the project, giving their financial support to the carrying out of construction works. Unfortunately, the hospital was unable to arrange the works to be done within the time limit set by the organization and so the support was withdrawn and reallocated. Thankfully, however, German organization Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Deutschland had already funded the second part of the project and we were able to successfully train 12 nurses within the unit in specialized palliative care. The course was carried out in spring 2015 and, what’s more, two therapists – an occupational therapist and physiotherapist- were employed to work with those children unable to sit or stand. The maximum we can do for children in such serious conditions is to help them to make us understand that they want something, or to simply show a reaction. We work to bring all their resources to life.

“When Katie Davies heard about the difficulties we were facing following the withdrawal of financial support, she was deeply touched by the children’s conditions and problems in terms of the lack of vital equipment (such as monitors and aspirators) and the condition of some of the children whose beds were too small and clothes and sheets old and worn.”

Katie Ruth Davies: “One photo really got my blood boiling. My reaction prompted me to immediately donate what I could and to get on facebook. This is what I wrote: ‘This is Yusuf. He is 9 years old and suffers from microcephaly and mental retardation. He cannot be cared for at home so this bed is his home. This bed is in the ward of a palliative care unit in a private children’s hospital in Tbilisi. Yusuf has kind and well-trained staff to feed him, wash him and give him physiotherapy. But this bed is his home. You can see it’s too small for him, right?

As I’m typing this my legs are stretched out. Last night my three children slept in a giant bed with all the space in the world to stretch and move around in. This small bed is what Yusuf has.

Last year an NGO received funding from a reputable organization to get the palliative unit where Yusuf lives renovated. The sum was supposed to go towards renovation (bright paint, happy stickers), two monitors to add to the one the many children on the ward share with Yusuf, a bath-bed, and five big beds. One of those beds was supposed to be for Yusuf.

For reasons I don’t understand there were delays in renovating the palliative unit. The beds and monitors could not be bought until the renovation works were complete. And while the NGO was waiting, the contract with the donor organization ran out and the money was taken back to give to someone else. No doubt that someone else is just as needy- we all know there are many, many good and worthy causes in Georgia. But the worthy cause I see right now is Yusuf.

As I lay with my legs stretched out tonight, I will be picturing Yusuf sleeping, just the other side of the city from me, in the position you see him here.

A new bed costs $470. For some of you, that equals a month’s salary or more. For others it is the sacrifice of one less pair of good shoes, skipping that weekend away, or the price of that phone that you desperately wanted but are already bored with. For each of us $470 has a different meaning: easy money or a mountain to climb.

For Yusuf it is the chance to spend the day with his legs stretched out. To spend every day of what remains of his life in more comfort than he is now.

I want to raise money to buy him a new bed. It can be done by donating to the NGO whose project funding was withdrawn this month. I’ve never done anything like this before and now I ask myself ‘Why not?’ So many people need help, it’s overwhelming. But this little boy’s life can be transformed with nothing more than a new bed.

Can you help me raise this $470? If it was Lari, I wouldn’t even ask- I would give. But I need to ask. Can you help me buy Yusuf a new bed?’

Within 16 hours we’d raised enough money to buy that bed. I couldn’t believe it. And the money kept coming..!”

Irina Kldiashvili: “Katie said that nothing was impossible and that what we could not do before due to time limits was possible to make happen now. Within a few weeks, with her support, we’d collected so much money that we were able to buy a total of four beds, a therapeutic bath-bed (which enables nurses to wash the children in comfort rather than having to bend over to hold them in the tile basin previously used) and a monitor for those children in the most critical conditions. What Katie has done is priceless. Even today, there are still people transferring money and offering to volunteer in some way. Additionally, other organizations and embassies have got involved. We hope to be able to continue to do more for the children. Although they’re getting a great medical service at the Children’s New Clinic, we’re eager to equip each ward and also to get new bedsheets, and clothes and other daily things for the children.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to Katie, and to each and every person who stood by our side. I also want to thank our co-workers, our nurses and therapists who daily give their all to caring for the palliative children. I’d like to put the spotlight on our energetic and well-loved therapist, Irakli Sharangia, who helped us to bring the beds so quickly from Turkey. My thanks also go to the border guards who exempted us from extra fees and Irakli’s Turkish friends and all those involved in this kind act.”

Katie Ruth Davies: “I’d like to offer my own thanks to all those people who saw fit to make a difference to the lives of these poor children. It went above and beyond anything I imagined when I posted that plea for help. But it’s made me ambitious and I hope to do more fund-raising for more needy children in future, so watch this space!

Meri Taliashvili

03 December 2015 21:24