Marie is the volunteer Play Worker at Korle Bu TeachingHospital (KBTH) and also volunteers with Little Haven’s Trust in Ghana. We caught up with Maria when visiting Ghana to see why she chooses to volunteer at the hospital and just what it means to see children with cancer able to smile again;
“I enjoy my role at KBTH so much, giving children the opportunity to write, read, draw and simply interact with each other is very important. Many of these children spend large amounts of time out of school so they miss out on an education. Even if their cancer is cured, their cancer is often still a major factor in future life.
“I am an artist in my spare time, when I can I make jewellery and other artworks to sell but importantly for me, art is a way of life. It gives me something to look forward to each day, to focus my mind and to create something from nothing and I love that.
“Art, to me, is a form of therapy. Many of the families here struggle for money and finances are a huge issue for families in Ghana but what we sometimes fail to address are the mental impacts of having a child with cancer.”
Being away from home, family and friends can make staying at hospital a lonely environment. Despite the best efforts of healthcare professionals, there is no place like home and Marie’s role as a play worker lifts some of those mental stresses for children on the ward.
“I get to engage with the children in a way the doctors and nurses can’t. To make them smile and remember to be children again through art is something so wonderful.”
There are many ups and downs for Marie in her role. Despite being able to see children smile, things do not always go to plan.
“One of the girls, Rebecca, is in a wheelchair now, but she is getting better. Her hair has grown back, she is smiling, and she is playing again and this feels me with joy. Unfortunately, there are also times where children leave us, not to return home but when they move on. These moments are equally important as it inspires me and others to do more and to keep doing more to help these children, the future of our world.”