Since 1997 Fundación Dharma is the support and home in Bogota (Colombia) of children and adolescents with limited resources suffering from cancer. Its current manager and director, Myriam Duque, has been linked to the NGO for 16 years, since a close personal experience led her to meet the organization. From then until now, she has held various positions and functions within the organization.
Recently Myriam Duque visited Fundacion MAPFRE, which has been supporting the entity for more than 5 years, where she explained in detail the work they do.
Formando Comunidad: What would you highlight from the project A Home for children with cancer in Bogota, from Dharma?
Myriam Duque: Above all, the accompaniment we offer the adolescents and children that live in the center. We provide them with support throughout their illness and try to make their life as normal as possible, seeking relief from the symptoms caused by the treatment and the disease itself. In addition to that, although it might sound hard to hear, we help them preparing for death, talking a lot with them and being always present so that they live it as something natural, without fear, knowing they are not alone. Some of the kids have no family or come from broken families who cannot take care of them so, somehow, we become that much needed support.
FC: How do you help the children and adolescents that come to the center?
MD: We have a facility where we welcome them, along with their families who accompany them seasonally. Most of them are children who come from different regions of the country and we give them a home. We also provide comprehensive care, serving them in their illness, their evolution and their education and their future careers. In addition, Dharma is responsible for filing the relevant applications in legal matters to improve the care of these patients, paying attention to the adoption of laws that protect three fundamental aspects: early detection of disease, facilitate the initiation of treatment as quickly as possible and ensure its completion.
FC: And how do they appreciate the support received from Dharma?
MD: They feel accompanied and around people who are going through the same, with the possibility of sharing experiences. They spend an average of three years with us, but some, after a while, if they suffer a relapse, they ask us to return to the center to die in our company. In this regard we believe that the assistance is positive because they are in an environment of security and comfort where they are always attended and feel accompanied.
Permanently we support them also in receiving college scholarships, so that they can build a future that will allow a quality of life for themselves and their families, once they manage to survive the disease.
FC: In all this time of support, how would you define the collaboration of Fundacion MAPFRE with Dharma?
MD: Excellent. We have had great support from Fundacion MAPFRE, becoming in recent years the main benefactor of our project. Thanks to their contribution to our project, we continue doing our work with fewer gaps.
FC: How important volunteering is for Dharma on an everyday basis?
MD: For us volunteering is essential because they perform a very important task of accompaniment. Today, they are mainly responsible for covering the afternoons carrying out different activities with our adolescents. Among others, they watch movies or give them craft classes, photography or spelling. In this way children leave the routine and learn new things. This is a one-time volunteer that with the time, we want to make the backbone of our project.
FC: What are the projects that Dharma has in the short or medium term?
MD: We have in mind to launch a vertical vegetable garden for kids to learn about plants and take care of their maintenance. In addition to that, we would like to expand the volunteer program and, above all, continue our work to improve the living conditions of children and adolescents who are defenseless, guaranteeing them something that can be minimal but very necessary for them, which is an accompaniment with some security, with a compassionate and close look at each of them and their families.