Where do you start when everything comes at you in such a rush the moment you walk from the p+r to the center after a short walk. During this walk I was not even half aware of what an emotional rollercoaster I would encounter. But you do realize that parents and visitors also follow this path when they come to visit their child, loved one, nephew or niece. Looking for the center, because the way there was not yet clear. I used to joke that people always ask: Was it easy for you to find it? Answer: No….
As we got closer to the center, my tension increased. You don’t get much from the outside and it felt that way in the hall. To be honest, I felt like I was walking into a high school. Which came across as a bizarre feeling, but was also reassuring in a strange way. After we registered and met the KiKa volunteer, my eyes opened further.
You walk into the hallway and enter a space that is clearly KiKa’s, but also incredibly accessible to those who need it. The bizarre feeling of the staff room where everyone can feel welcome. With a beautiful view of the courtyard with a great playground where the children can be children again in all the misery.
On the way to this room you will meet the first children. One so different from the other, but it all felt very positive.
When the volunteer told all about KiKa and the center, I wanted to save as much information as possible to share with you dear readers, but I was literally overwhelmed by everything around it. Laughing children running through the hallway, a father playing football with his child in the courtyard. It was beautiful to see and hear, but the reason they are here is something you keep in mind…
After handing over the check it was time for the tour. We walked back into the hallway and had to wait a while because something came up and a little boy came along. I estimate between 2 or 3 years old, big smile and cheerful. The volunteer asked where his banana was. “On.” he said and then he started giving everyone he met a high 5. Even his parents. Everyone had to laugh at the cute little guy who stole the show. After the tour we heard that this cheerful little man comes to pick up a banana every day he is/comes to the center. We also heard that he has not yet received any good results in his fight against cancer…
Then the tour started. As we walked back to the hall we came across a nurse, a mother pushing a hospital bed for a baby in front of her. Inside was a baby… so small… so innocent… I got goosebumps….
A beautiful area where children can play. Parents playing with their son near the water in the back. It is so special and obvious at the same time. Beautiful nature behind the center, where parents can clear their heads or, if the child is strong enough to go outside, take a walk. It remains an incredibly beautiful location. The only thing missing according to the volunteer is a nearby supermarket.
Further on in the tour, during which we passed a wonderfully scented restaurant, we walked towards the lifts. I then saw two situations parallel to each other. Children with an IV walked through the hallway, but the difference between them was visible. One of the children pretended the IV was a skateboard/surf board as his mother pushed him down the hall. The other child looked tired, devastated, with bags under his eyes. The elevator became full and Toya and I decided to take the next elevator. There we stood next to a father. He had a cart full of suitcases and bags. Enough to be able to stay in the center for at least a few days or weeks. The doors closed and a huge sigh could be heard from the father. Toya asked/said something about the sigh and the father agreed with the words after it: “…, but fortunately the worst seems to be over.” And now I can’t let go of that moment. It was so moving to hear. You don’t know what to say. I slammed shut. We almost forgot that we had to be the first to leave the elevator when we reached the intended floor.
There are so many places for children to be children again, but there are also wonderful places for children to get an explanation of what will happen to themselves or their brother or sister, and what research will be done. I think that is very good, not only from a pedagogical point of view. It makes it more accessible for the children to see for themselves, instead of just being told.
The contrast in feeling
I experienced the worst contrast when we went up another floor. Here are the various outpatient clinics where the children are treated. On the left your beds are being moved, children on IVs and on the right a child came rushing by on a scooter, a cheerful curly haired woman passed by with a suitcase behind her and she proudly walked forward towards the place where she had to be.
While waiting for the elevator back down, the father and mother came back inside with the little boy who had been playing in the garden earlier. Back to the room. Probably on to the next treatment. The contrast was so great again. Not even 20 minutes ago we saw this little boy happily watching his father while playing with that water. Now he was lying in his buggy very tired.
Now that I’m writing this out for you, I still don’t know what feeling to describe. It is almost impossible to describe with words. The feeling, the contrast. It is so big, but also so small. The center is beautiful, versatile and good for the children, but the reason that they have to go there and stay there is so very sad. If it didn’t motivate me to help the children before my visit, it has only increased now.
~ Wendy, Manager CharitySL.nl in Actie voor KiKa ~