A hospital normally is a place for a short stay. This is not the case for many children who stay in the local hospital in Izmir, Turkey. They often suffer from chronic illnesses like diabetes, liver failure, cancer, etc. and they have to undergo serious treatment. For the hospital staff it is not always easy to explain to the children what is going to happen and why pain is involved when giving injections etc. The Dr.Behçet Uz Hospital Foundation has therefore developed a method using dolls, called the Yaren Babies. These ‘babies’ are made from stuffed cotton and have no faces. The children residing in a hospital are given the dolls and paint their faces and bodies, creating their own companions. When using the dolls, the hospital staff can explain the treatment in such a way that the children understand much better why pain is involved.
When our colleagues from Powder Coatings in Izmir heard about this very sympathetic initiative they decided to make a contribution and with support from the Community Program 500 Yaren Babies were bought. Each and every employee at the site then volunteered to make a contribution and gave the babies an identity by sewing an AkzoNobel sticker on one of the legs. The white and blue dolls were turned in at the HR Office whose members would, together with some volunteers, deliver them to the sick children at the local hospital.
Sanal Limoncuoglu, one of the initiators and member of site’s Social Committee, explained that in view of the hospital conditions they were not allowed to come with too big a group of volunteers to visit the children and therefore it was decided that the Social Committee would represent all employees. He said: ‘On our way to the hospital, we knew it would not be easy to come face to face with these beautiful but sick children. We met them in the play room together with their teachers as well as the managers of the unit. The teachers informed us of their activities with the children who were the ones that could be out of their beds for some time. It was hurting to be informed that some of the children pass away and others may not even realize what is going on. The teachers have to be strong and they are indeed. They are keen to enlighten and fill these precious lives with affection and love as much as they can. We handed in the babies to be taken to the treatment rooms. As we blew the balloons to decorate the room, the children gradually took their seats. We placed the paints, drawing pencils, notebooks, tooth brushes, tooth pastes, fun pastes and etc. on top of the table in the middle of the room. We talked and listed to them, enjoyed and tried to accompany the songs they sang for us which they had learned lately.’
When in the hospital our volunteers were informed that most of the sick children are members of mostly poor families. With this additional information they did not hesitate and when they returned to the office they announced a second round of their project: the collection of clothes and shoes for people of any age.
For the members of the Social Committee, who are very proud of the fact that all their colleagues have so enthusiastically participated in the first round, it is already a fact that they can again count on the support the Powder Coatings employees in Izmir to get engaged in the next activity. Sanal is determined to make this happen and can’t wait to deliver the collected goods to the families of the sick children.