Enabling online education for young cancer patients in MoldovaPublished: Jan 19, 2021 Reading time: 3 minutes
In September 2020, Ruslan, an eight-year-old boy from a small village in eastern Moldova, arrived at the Oncological Institute of the Republic of Moldova to be treated for leukaemia. Being hospitalised in the capital, far from home, was a challenge for Ruslan and his family alike. With four other children to provide for, it was especially difficult for Ruslan’s father, the family’s sole breadwinner.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought additional complications, such as limits on travel, a ban on hospital visits, and the need to comply with personal protection requirements. For a low-income family like Ruslan’s, these obstacles were financially insurmountable. To help, Ruslan’s doctors allowed his father to stay with his son at the hospital for the duration of treatment – about nine months.
“Our lives changed the day doctors told us about Ruslan’s illness,” his father says. “Part of our family remained at home, while my son and I moved into the hospital. At the same time, Ruslan had to continue learning during his treatment. I had no idea how to organise this.”
The paediatric oncology units of the Oncological Institute are designed to house patients for long-term treatment, thus the facility includes a school for hospitalised children. However, due to the pandemic, classes moved online and the only way to connect with teachers was through electronic devices. Recognising that this might preclude some children from participating, the public association Viața fără leucemie – Life without Leukaemia – provided laptops, headphones and other supplies to enable young oncology patients to participate in online schooling.
The electronic devices for remote learning were provided as part of the “Support during the COVID-19 pandemic for paediatric cancer patients and families who take care of them” project, led by People in Need (PIN) and implemented by Viața fără leucemie within the European Union-funded COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership. The aim of the project is to mitigate the adverse effects of COVID-19 and to contribute to the longer-term socio-economic resilience of vulnerable groups in Eastern Europe.
Natalia Vîlcu-Bajurean, President of Viața fără leucemie, says: “We saw the pandemic spreading and affecting families in our country, and we immediately understood that it would disproportionately impact the children being treated at the Oncological Institute. We had no time to do a lot of thinking, we just needed to find a way to provide help where it was needed the most. This programme, funded by the European Union, came at the right moment and we are very glad we could help these children attend online classes.”
Thanks to the project, children being treated in the oncological units can keep up with their education and enjoy new forms of entertainment while undergoing chemotherapy. This is important, as emotional well-being is a key element to overcoming even the most serious of illnesses.
This material was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the public association “Viața fără leucemie” and People in Need Moldova and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.
Photo credit: © — 2020 — Public Association “Viața fără leucemie”. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.