I’m ashamed to admit that until last week I hadn’t returned to the children’s cancer ward. Not for lack of desire, but the volunteering visits only run twice a month and the last three times I have either been away or had friends visiting.
Thankfully I was free last week so off I went. Whilst waiting for the others in the entrance area (read large plastic shed that looked more like a disheveled bus stop, made even nicer by monsoon rain) I met a young Vietnamese girl. She told me she’d studied abroad in England for her Masters, when I asked where she replied Southampton! She went to the same university as me and had lived very close to me during my last year. A small world indeed.
This week we read the Gingerbread Man story to the children and then did arts and crafts activities based around it. It was the first time I realised what a horrific story it is. The gingerbread man escapes, is continually chased by people wanting to eat him, eventually he makes friends with a fox who lures him into a false friendship and then eats him alive, limb by limb! This gory ending seemed to escape the kid’s notice and they got stuck into making mini gingerbread men. There were many more kids this time and only a few volunteers, so we became experts at super fast cutting and sticking. I even learnt helpful new Vietnamese vocabulary such as: “Where are the scissors” and “I need more celoptape now!” Highly useful language.
Afterwards we dispensed milk and snacks to the ‘wards’. These wards are more like dirty, leaking, packed rooms, about the size of a standard living room. They have about 20 children and their families in, living on the floor/chairs/shelves and tables.
I really enjoy going and surprisingly it’s not that upsetting. I think that’s mainly because I block it out to an extent, I think if I stood there and thought about where I was too much and how unfair it was it would be too much.
Listening to the story. My leg had gone completely numb by this point thanks to the child sat on it.
wave your gingerbread man in the air like you don’t care.