Klicek Foundation – Prague, Czech Republic
Friday 30 May by Micky Ross
The Klicek Foundation aims to improve the support, help and care for seriously sick children and their families both in hospital and at home. Spot the sentence lifted from their website!
Their work so far has involved the setting up of a hospice or ‘big house’ in the country to give kids a better surrounding than the hospital to aid their recovery. Alas some poor kids will also spend their last days there.
Here’s another bit from the website which puts it all in perspective: Modern medicine, despite all its achievements and efforts, is not always able to save life of a gravely sick child. Such a situation, if it occurs, is extremely difficult and demanding for both the child and his family. Having been discharged from hospital, they return home – and they have to live with the awareness of how limited the earthly time of their child is.
Children’s hospices all over the world started to come into being as a response to the needs of these families. The aim of children’s hospices is quite simple – to offer sick children and their families friendship, love and practical help and support.
Unlike the hospices for the adults, where people usually spend the very last days of their lives, children’s hospices do focus mainly on offering the respite care. This means that the sick children and their families come for short term stays (often repeatedly) during which also the caring members of the family can recharge their own batteries and have a rest from demanding everyday caring work.
The atmosphere of children’s hospices is, however, far from being silent or sad – the hospice is, first of all, a place that attempts to bring joy and peace back to the life of the child and his family.
So that’s the main thrust of what they do just now. Next year they are looking to build a new nursing unit on the grounds which will provide medical care to supplement the restorative properties of the hospice. There are also plans to build an ‘open house’ which will be a respite care unit and social centre. The Sunshine Appeal donation will go towards the building of these two facilities.
The Hospital Visit
The visit started when Prague Song Paddy, Ginger Neil and myself, met up with Scott7 0, Cumbie and The Water at the reception of Prague’s Motol hospital. Easier said than done such was the size of the complex.
The hospice is actually some 65 kilometers from Prague, but in order to make a meeting possible, they had suggested congregating at this hospital as they also run a ‘hostel’ for parents there.
Those parents who had to travel from further afield could stay in basic rooms at the hospital for free and visit their hospitalised children more regularly. Alas, Jiri informed us that they were only just tolerated by some in charge at the hospital. An attitude we all found very difficult to understand.
First off then, we were shown some of these facilities and as you can see, they were extremely basic. A single room which could house up to 4 adults.
Sometimes the children could stay with them there too. We were introduced to one such laddie, Jakub, aged about 8. He had a couple of small footballs and insisted we sign them. I can only imagine he thought we were the players. “They must be some players if they can overcome the handicap of those beer bellies” he must surely have been thinking. It was also our first chance to hand out a wee Scottish beanie bear, set of stickers and Nessie pencil case that Mick North Croy had bought and given to us to take over.
Jiri then suggested that although we couldn’t see kids from the hospice, we could go to a ward in the hospital and hand out the toys. It had been hoped we would visit a cancer ward, however the head of the hospital wouldn’t allow this, so instead we went to a neurological ward. No sooner were we in the door when we met Zdenek (Dennis in English). He didn’t appear to be frightened of the large men in dresses and enthusiastically accepted some gifts. He was also quite keen to have his photo taken with us.
Further down the ward we popped into a few rooms to hand out the gifts. The kids were actually a little older – maybe in the 10 – 16 range and we felt a little self conscious of giving them teddy bears! We popped into 3 or 4 rooms, each with at least 3 kids in them before finally stopping outside the intensive care room at the end of the corridor. After a bit of Czech chat with the nurses we were informed that only one person was allowed in the room. Jiri asked your’s truly to go in as I was the only one who’d brought a Glengarry and with the full body length white coat on, there was very little Scottish flavour otherwise on show. One poor laddie in there seemed to be in real pain as the nurses tended to a leg wound.
Outside, we met one of the key surgeons before leaving, who Jiri described as ‘one of the good guys’.
And that was pretty much that.
We had a few beanies and bits & pieces left over which we gave to Jiri. These he would take and give to the kids at the hospice. We stopped for a photo in front of the Klicek noticeboard near the hospital reception and then we were on our way.