Today I want to talk about an organization called KYTHE. I’ve been hearing about Kythe since my college days, but I never got around to joining. I’m thankful that I finally had a chance to be a Kythe volunteer last weekend when my family decided to spend a morning at the National Children’s Hospital cancer ward as volunteer play buddies.
Kythe is an organization that aims to help alleviate the anxiety of pediatric patients and their families by uplifting their spirits and strengthening hope. Their slogan–“Because children should be flying kits, not fighting cancer”–says a lot about the heart behind the foundation. They have a lot of programs (they’ve been around since the early ’90s) and they serve several hospitals, making it a good organization to join if you have a heart for children and you’re looking for an opportunity to serve as a volunteer.
Last Saturday at National Children’s Hospital, a child went up to me and grabbed my hand and asked me what my name was. The boy’s name is Macmac, and he has leukemia. He also has the brightest eyes and one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen:
He says he’s been in and out of the hospital for years. He’s originally from Bicol, but moved to Manila with his family for his treatments. He’s friendly, funny, and full of life. Because he’s been in and out of there, he knows a lot of the patients and he knows his way around the hospital (he gave me a mini-tour of sorts!). During the time we spent together, we read books, answered word puzzles, played board games with his fellow patients, and spotted the tallest buildings that we could see from the hospital window. I watched him happily wolf down his Jollibee Chickenjoy and Spaghetti meal (we both agreed that between the two, we liked the Chickenjoy more). I wish I could’ve spent more time with him, but when it was time to go, I took a photo of him, and he insisted on taking a photo of me. I said a prayer for him and we hugged each other tight, and then he waved goodbye as he went back to reading his new books.
Meanwhile, not all children are as fortunate to have the energy of Macmac. A lot of the other children in the ward were extremely weak and could barely speak or move. There was one boy who was happily playing a board game with us, but later on in the hour, he was wailing in pain because his condition caused his knee to swell and the pain was nearly unbearable for him. His mother went out to call the nurse and the doctor, so we had to comfort and console him in the meantime. Unfortunately, as much as we wanted to help him at that moment, there wasn’t anything we could do but hug him and pray for him. And as he wailed and twisted in pain, I couldn’t help but feel a deep pain in my heart for this child.
During times like these, you realize that your own struggles are tiny compared to what other people are going through, and if you let it happen, your heart will grow as you learn that you are capable of loving more than you thought you could.
If you have some time and love to share, be a Kythe volunteer. For more information on Kythe and how to volunteer or support their projects, check out their website at http://www.kythe.org.