With the start of the July/August vacation period, many children have been granted some time away from the teaching/learning process. However, some of them may now find the time to dwell on thoughts that may not be entirely good for their wellbeing.
Some of these youths might have lost a loved one and may still be grieving. Some of the now departed loved ones might have been the victims of chronic non-communicable diseases the likes of cancer or even suicide. Some of the departed, perhaps without even knowing it, might have been the world—a mentor, friend or even confidante— to these young individuals and may have slipped away without a warning. Many of these grief-stricken youths may have no idea how to express their feelings and may be uncertain how to move forward.
However there is hope for these young people. Through the Giving Hope Foundation, youths, who would have lost loved ones to cancer or suicide, will be eligible to be a part of a movement aimed at teaching them how to cope with grief.
The Giving Hope Foundation, which became a registered not-for-profit Non-Government Organisation [NGO] in December of last year, has a two-prong mission to join the battle against cancer and suicide. In so doing, it has also devised a programme that aims to cater to grieving youths. The inaugural programme, which is expected to be an annual feature, will take the form of a Bereavement Day Camp slated for August 7 – 11, 2017.
“We are catering for about 25 youths, but if a few more want to come, we will welcome them,” said President and Founder of The Giving Hope Foundation, Dr. Latoya Gooding. The camp will be held at the office of the Foundation, situated at Ketley and Drysdale Streets, Charlestown, Georgetown.
First Lady, Mrs Sandra Granger, is expected to attend an opening ceremony to mark the commencement of the Camp. Popular designer, Sonia Noel, has also thrown her support behind the noble venture and is expected to engage the youths during designated camp sessions. Camp sessions will be held between 09:00 and 13:00 hours daily.
As an NGO, the Giving Hope Foundation has embraced the goal of helping to decrease the incidence of late stage diagnosis of cancer and to help prevent the act of suicide too.
Although its suicide prevention arm is still in its embryonic stage, the NGO’s cancer prevention work has already begun to make a considerable impact. In just seven months, the organisation has already been able to host outreaches to about 10 locations, including at private and public sector organisations in multiple regions, and screened more than 1,000 individuals, some of whom have been referred for further care.
“We have been offering breast examination and we even teach persons to do self-breast examination as well, but we do the clinical aspect,” said Dr. Gooding who noted that “we also offer pap smears and VIA tests for cervical cancer…also we screen for prostate cancer; we do digital rectal and blood tests. If we find that any of the persons we screen need to do ultrasounds or mammograms, we usually ask them to visit a private or the public hospital.”
All services offered by the Foundation, according to Dr. Gooding, are offered free of cost.
The Foundation is able to sustain itself from fundraising activities and support from its United States-based sister organisation, Health, Education Relief Organisation for Cancer [HEROC], headed by Ms Lorna Welshman-Neblett. With this support, the Giving Hope Foundation has been able to reach out to many individuals in need and offer hampers and even medical supplies to health facilities.
The Foundation operates with the motto: ‘Creating pathways to care, hope and support’ and has as its cancer related objectives: to give support to those suffering from cancer; facilitate research for risk factors for cancer, especially, among children, and to provide education to cancer patients in paediatric wards, through collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Public Health. The latter objective was one that was pioneered by Dr. Gooding and Ms. Marva Langevine, while they both were members of the Periwinkle Club. According to Dr. Gooding, although she has moved on to the Giving Hope Foundation, this initiative remains alive and well.
The membership of the Giving Hope Foundation currently consists of several professional individuals including: doctors, nurses, teachers and officials of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Police Force and Fire Service, Counsellors, HIV Counsellors and Testers, among others.
The organisation offers regular counselling sessions and, according to Dr. Gooding, “persons can simply walk off the road into our office and have a chance to interact with our trained counsellors. We offer plan on offering our services all year-round not only when there is an annual observance but whenever and wherever we can.”
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