A unique experience on the eve of International Childhood Cancer Day
Children wearing hospital masks were eagerly waiting at the auditorium of Sri Ramakrishna Hospital on Wednesday morning. Taking a break from their routine treatment schedules, some 15 children from the Paediatric Cancer Ward of the hospital were present to witness something unique on the eve of International Childhood Cancer Day.
Nearly 50 children who had completed cancer treatment at the hospital had also come along with their mothers. Underprivileged children studying in Global Pathways, a Village Community School, also formed part of the audience.
For Kathak exponent Pandit Chitresh Das and Emmy-award winning American tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith who have given performances world-wide, such an audience was a one-off. Nevertheless, they spent two hours with the kids and ensured that those were fun-filled and memorable for them. The dancing duo performed ‘Fastest Feet in Rhythm’ in the city on Tuesday.
It was moving to see the two dancers go to each row in the audience to show and explain about the ‘ghungroo’ and steel-fitted tap shoes. While the children undergoing treatment watched with rapture as the maestros did their footwork, the ones who had completed treatment were called to the stage to join them. The dancers were all ears as P. Guhan, Director, Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology and Research, explained about the Paediatric Cancer Ward, which was a charitable venture, being run under the aegis of the Cancer Alleviation Rehabilitation Trust (CART).
The Trust was supported by the hospital management and some public donations.
“Awareness about childhood cancer is very poor. Nearly 85 per cent of childhood cancer is curable. It requires maximum of six months treatment at the hospital and costs anywhere between Rs. 1.5 lakh and Rs. 5 lakh. We are treating the children free of cost, and after they are discharged the follow-up treatment is also free. February 15 is International Childhood Cancer Day and this programme is dedicated to these children with cancer. More children can be cured with the help of generous donors,” the medical oncologist said. The kids from the Global Pathways School, receiving training in Bharatnatyam, danced to the ‘tabla’ beats of Pandit Das. To the same beats, he taught them Kathak steps.
The kids – both boys and girls – were quick to pick up the steps and danced along with the Kathak exponent. As they came down the stage, Mr. Smith gave them all a high five for their performance.
Swathy Rohit, one of the Directors of the School, said the programme was to motivate children who came from broken homes, where the mother was a sex worker, or the father was a convict, where homes did not have electricity or potable water.