Admitting to a hospital due to any condition qualifies as a difficult human experience that is aggravated if we have to spend days or months hospitalized. If it is already difficult for an adult, a child can suffer it even more.
Those who in 1965, in the last century, founded the volunteer corps of the Children’s Hospital of the Holy Trinity Dr. Romis Raiden, a non-profit civil association with the firm mission of “filling the empty hours of the hospitalized child with love.”
It is one of the oldest volunteer programs in Córdoba that still stands. The structure and solidity it has today is the result of the work carried out over the years by a group of enthusiastic and supportive people from Córdoba. They always had the unconditional support and guidance of Dr. Romis Amado Raiden, who led the team as president until his death in 2007.
It all started with a group of women who read stories and made the kids at the hospital draw, but who wanted to do something more. For that they had to talk to Raiden and wait for him to authorize them. Although they say that he was strict with the requirements, he always had the idea of accompanying the children.
Nina Menichetti and Lidia Ciminari are the oldest volunteers and the first of a small commission that was formed 58 years ago. “The doctor’s dream was for the boys to be well taken care of. He has left us an incredible legacy and we are what we are because he influenced us. Building volunteering is entering a place where you don’t just come to have fun, where you don’t come for a little while, but you have to stay. The commitment has to be very strong,” Nina tells The voice.
“At that time, parents did not stay with the children, who spent a lot of time alone. Some parents came from other provinces or from the borders and could not be traveling. The doctor saw them alone for hours until visiting hours, which were a little while, and that’s why he thought something had to be done to keep them entertained,” adds Lidia.
According to what they say, several children they took care of remember them years later, visit them and even make donations: “In one way or another, they remain marked and related to us.”
A corner of happiness and color in the hospital
The tour of a hospital can be gloomy and gray, but when you arrive at the Games Room located on the first floor of the Children’s Hospital, everything is filled with color. At the door, some kids are eagerly waiting to pass by and forget for a few hours about the reality that is passing through them. Those who cannot get out of their beds also wait impatiently for the volunteers’ daily visits.
The physical space where the volunteers operate today began to be built in 2001, after the hospital moved to Bajada Pucará. In 2005, the place was inaugurated and currently has a meeting room, a kitchen, children’s bathrooms, a room to store donations, and another where the children spend hours with toys and games.
The hallway that connects these rooms is decorated with crafts that the kids make for special dates, like spring or Christmas. On one of the walls you can see images and memories of the most important milestones of the group from its founding to today.
Currently, they have the project of adding a room for teenagers, closing and roofing a balcony-terrace that they have in the space.
Accompany you through the game
From Monday to Saturday, from 4 to 8 p.m., the team of more than 50 volunteers takes turns attending to the needs of hospitalized children. Each volunteer agrees to be present one day of the week and carry out an intense day of work.
“We arrive, we put on our overalls (which we can only use inside the hospital) and we divide the rooms. Each one has a notebook that one takes to write down everything that the children or parents may need. “This is how we began the journey,” describes Gustavo Rodríguez, vice president of the volunteer corps.
At 6:30 p.m., they meet to discuss the day and then stay in the games room until 8 p.m. with the kids who can move around. Messages are also left to remember birthdays and to prepare a cake and a gift the next day. Others are in charge of receiving and accommodating the donations that arrive.
Lorena Beasutti, president of the team, says that her main objective is to bring joy to the kids: “We try to make the days we come be a party. We do everything so that for a while they forget everything and see a happy face. It is beautiful to give a smile to the child and show him that many things can be changed through love.”
“You think you come to give love to children, but the love you receive from them is greater and priceless. Everything they teach us every day is impressive,” adds Gustavo.
Although it is included in the hospital’s organizational chart, the team of volunteers functions independently, has its own legal status, its statutes, internal regulations and a board of directors that renews its authorities every two years by vote.
Anyone over 18 years of age who wants to take part must take an admission course that is given every two years, in March or April. It takes place on Saturdays and lasts almost three months.
The last one was in 2018 because the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted its normal development. The dictation will reopen in 2024 and there are already people signed up. “The first thing we teach is our statute and the regulations they have to adhere to. At the same time, we show them what it is like to play and deal with a hospitalized child,” explains Gustavo.
There are many precautions to consider: diet, connections to machines, what things the patient can or cannot do depending on the medication or condition they have, whether they can be lifted, moved or fed, the necessary authorizations, among other things.
“Many people sign up, but then they go to the room, they collide with reality and they regret it. It’s not easy to play with boarding kids, not everyone can,” says the volunteer.
How to collaborate with the group of volunteers
To sustain itself, the volunteer corps receives donations of all kinds. Healthy toys, diapers, blankets, hygiene items, snack foods such as tea, cooked mate or milk, and also money. From time to time, they host special fundraising events.
Those interested in collaborating with this initiative can send their donations Monday to Saturday, from 4 to 8 p.m., at the Children’s Hospital (Bajada Pucará 787) or contact the following telephone numbers: 3516-630 414 (Lorena) or 3516-410 859 (Gustavo).
Additionally, messages can be sent to instagram or to e-mail [email protected]. And also bank transfers to the following account: Nation Bank No.: 21300632/11; CBU: 0110213220021300632119; CUIT: 30-69853214-5.
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