The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Making wishes come true

Visiting the zoo, eating pizza and receiving a new pair of slippers, a foundation grants the innocent requests of terminally ill children

What would a terminally ill child wish for? It’s hard for those of us who are not in their shoes to imagine, but their wishes are innocent and easy to fulfill such as a visit to the zoo, to eat pizza, have a new pair of slippers or meet the President.Granting wishes for terminally ill children is why the ‘My Wish Foundation’ was set up in 2009 by Nelum Arachchige, who is its founder and serves as its President. Between then and now, wishes have been granted to hundreds of children.


“The children’s wishes are so innocent but there is true happiness when we grant what they wish for. It might be the only time they have a smile on their faces after being diagnosed with having a terminal illness,” Nelum said.

Nelum who lives in Scotland was inspired to help needy children after seeing the facilities that are available for terminally ill kids in that country. “There is a process where the children are taken in for treatment and given time to adjust to a hospital environment so that they undergo the treatment in as much comfort as possible. I also saw that there were groups such as Make –a –Wish organisation that grants wishes to such children worldwide to make them happy during the short time they have to live,” she said.

Eight year old Tharuni who was diagnosed with an incurable brain cancer in August 2009 was the first child that My Wish Foundation granted a wish. She wanted to visit the zoo, which she did with her mother with the assistance of the Foundation. She passed away 28 days later.

“The difficult thing for those of us who volunteer is seeing these beautiful children’s lives being cut short due to illness. We cannot give them life but we can make them happy during the time they are alive,” Nelum said.

Fourteen year old Tharushi, from Hikkaduwa, is suffering from a brain tumor. “She wanted to go out on a trip with her parents and brother which we arranged. It was memorable day for her as well as for her family as well as for the rest of us who accompanied them,” Nelum said. When we started work with MY Wish, one thing all of us who volunteer understood was the huge toll on the family of a child suffering from a terminal illness.

The conditions mean prolonged stays in hospital and most mothers have to stay day and night at the child’s side. This means the homes get neglected and if there are other children who need to be taken care of and if the mothers are employed, it also means giving up work,” she added. Which is why My Wish not only grants wishes to the children but also provides emotional, physical and financial support to parents while also working to build consciousness in society about their plight.

The Foundation also adopts a multi-religious, multi-ethnic approach as illnesses do not discriminate and affect all, Nelum said. When 12 year old Maneesha wished to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa earlier this year, My Wish arranged the meeting. The child died a few weeks later. At the meeting the President promised to donate a block of land where My Wish will set up a Cancer Support System. We have identified a land close to the National Cancer Hospital in Maharagama and once we get it, the Centre will be set up where both the children as well as their parents can come for counseling and for relaxing.

“Many mothers come from far way places and have no place to sleep in. The Centre will also prove them with facilities to reside in while their children are undergoing treatment,” she added. More details on My Wish Foundation can be obtained from their website www.mywishcharity.org or on their face book page at facebook.com/my/wish/foundation. They can be contacted on mywishproject@yahoo.co.uk

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