IMB, Butaro Hospital staff, and caregivers celebrate Christmas with children in the pediatric ward.
Doctors, nurses, parents, staff, and the children in the pediatric ward at Butaro Hospital celebrated Christmas with Christmas carols, dance, treats and gifts, and messages of hope. (Photo gallery at the bottom of the page)
This year, Christmas may not be as usual for 46 children, who are receiving medical treatment for cancer and other illnesses at Partners In Health-supported Butaro District Hospital. But the spirit of Christmas will continue to shine upon them during this festive season.
“We are happy to celebrate the festive season with our children,” says Dr. Louis Mujyuwisha speaking on behalf of the pediatrics medical team. “Many of us are here day and night, Monday through Sunday, and every single day. We share many things together and I can gladly say we have become more like a family. We thank the hospital, Inshuti Mu Buzima and everyone here for thinking about the children.”
Christmas is a special day, especially for children. In Rwanda, it is a moment to come together to exchange presents, share a special meal, followed by hours of playing and joy. Most importantly, it is a time to reflect on the past year, and for children to express their wishes.
A wish for normality
This festive season, Christmas wishes from the children and parents from Butaro Hospital reflect hope of a healthy life and gratitude for healthcare workers, who spent time with them.
'Get well and go back home'
“I wish all the children to feel better. I also wish children who live in the hospital to get well and go back home,” wishes from Byishimo (name changed), 13, who was admitted at Butaro Hospital in April, and currently attends the hospital for treatment once in a while after showing improvement.
'You are not alone'
“To all parents who are caring for their sick children, you are not alone. Do not feel bad or be scared,” a message from Ntegeyimana Theoneste, a parent caring for his four years old child at Butaro Hospital.
“To all parents, be strong. Everything happens for a reason, but stay hopeful and focus on the recovery. To all doctors, thank you for caring for us and keep up your commitment to help those in need.”
Ikitegetse Ranguida, a parent who lives in Mahama refugee camp caring for her 13-year-old daughter at Butaro Hospital.
'I want to walk'
“My wish is to get a prosthesis; I heard that it looks like a normal leg and I want to walk normally again,” says Keza (name changed), 13, whose leg had to be amputated to treat Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that begins in the cells that form bones.
“It is not easy for parents to leave other children and their spouses alone and spend more than five months at the hospital. I ask you to continue to be brave. I also thank Doctors here who receive critically ill patients and make them feel better again,” says Mapendo Sifa, a parent from the Democratic Republic of Congo caring for her 15-year-old nephew at Butaro Hospital.
A message of hope
Dr. Emmanuel Kayitare, the Director General of Butaro Hospital, and Dr. Cyprien Shyirambere, IMB’s Burera District Program Director, expressed their joy by singing for the children and assured them quality medical treatment.
“In partnership with Inshuti Mu Buzima, we promise you that we will get you prostheses you need and answer your wishes,” says Dr. Kayitare.
After sharing a cake and a game of football in front of the pediatric ward, the hospital and Inshuti Mu Buzima staff presented their gifts to the children and their parents, which included cleaning products, school materials, toys, clothes, among others.
“I thank a big team of doctors, nurses, cleaners, social workers, teachers, and everyone involved in the treatment of our children,” says Dr. Shyirambere. “Inshuti Mu Buzima is committed to helping our patients. That is why we are expanding the hospital to create a more conducive space for the children, bring modern equipment like CT scanner and everything needed to treat our patients onsite”.
Each year, an estimated 400,000 children and adolescents of 0-19 years old develop cancer. Between 2012 and 2019, 958 children received cancer treatment at Butaro District Hospital. However, the good news is that most childhood cancers can be cured with different forms of treatment, including surgery and radiotherapy.