Few things in life are as heartbreaking as having a terminally ill child. A group is creating unforgettable memories and hope for these children and their families in Bahrain.
When a child is diagnosed with a terminal illness, every parent’s priorities change overnight. The focus is on treatment and keeping the child alive. In the process, the child misses out on all the things others are doing at their age. Launched in 2010, the Dreams Society brings cheer to children having all kinds of serious illnesses, ranging from heart conditions and cancer to severe stages of sickle cell anaemia.
“We interview the children to find their innermost desire and then try to fulfil that. Watching the anticipation and excitement building up to D-day, we realise how much of a difference it makes to the children psychologically,” says Eman Nuruddin, one of the founders and a board member.
The society’s medical committee, comprising Dr Heba and Dr Hala Abdulwahab, is in touch with paediatricians across Bahrain in order to enlist children. The group had fulfilled 24 dreams in the last two years, but this Ramadan they undertook their most ambitious project, taking up 30 dreams — one for every day — for 30 children. These included taking children on trips to Disneyland in Orlando and Paris, trips to the Ferrari World Park in Abu Dhabi and even staging a robbery for a boy who wanted to be Spiderman!
“We don’t want children’s dreams manipulated by parents or family members. Therefore, we don’t tell them that we’re a charity. We interview them asking how can we help, while the parents are told to keep mum. The interview is videotaped, so the child’s original response is recorded to ensure it’s a genuine dream,” says Eman.
A nine-year-old girl, who was blinded after chemotherapy, wanted to travel abroad and was taken to Turkey, where she experienced the sea for the first time.
“There are times when hectic lobbying is required and strings need to be pulled to make a dream come true. But somehow, we’ve managed to do it, thanks to the commitment of our members and the kindness of people everywhere,” notes Eman.
When travelling, the children are flown — all expenses paid — along with their families, who appreciate the holiday.
Eman says that the children feel incredibly special on their dream day. The society’s fundraising committee headed by Aisha Fakhro has been very active in pooling resources, whether through Ghabgas or Instagram appeals.
“Four children, whose dreams we fulfilled and who survived their illness, have come back to work for us. They are teenagers now and want to make dreams of others come true. Perhaps it’s their way of providing hope to other sick children,” observes Eman.
Those interested in contributing or volunteering can follow @DreamsSociety on Instagram.