On saturday the 10th of December, we once again met at the club room in Bilkent University. This time our goal was to make face masks and christmas ornaments for the children who are staying at Cebeci hospital, most of whom have lucemia. As we would be going to visit the hospital on the next day we wanted to bring some gifts. This week we had fewer people as most of the students who attended from our high school were at an MUN conference. Before we started to make the masks, which would be made out of carton or grafting paper, we washed our hands. The treatment of leukemia renders the body defencless therefore hygiene is very important, we would further clean the masks with dysenfective sprey after they were done. We formed groupes of four and drew masks on grafting paper, the university students had bought. Most of the materials we used were brought by them hwever we realised that the carton we used was very hard to cut and that caused a lot of problems and slowed down our work. While working each one of us had a different role according to our strengths. We often changed roles as cutting out the masks was an exhausting task. One of us drew the mask the other cut it out and someone else covered it with colored paper. I realised that before starting an activity like this, it is very important to choose the correct materials. We were supposed to make sixty masks, two for every single child there were 30 children) however we were a few masks short in the end and didn’t have time to start the ornaments. I think the main reason of this drawback was the lack of proper materials. If the carton we used was more suitable for cutting then we wouldn’t have to spend so much time on a single mask. I realised that I was good at drawing masks and covering them with colored paper, however I worked a little slow and since we weren’t very planned and as there was a shortage of materials we coulden’t always work efficiently as a team. Next time we can be more mindful about our time use and select better materials. While working I tried to keep my hands and the masks clean though I realised that the materials we used weren’t completely clean, therefore we would have to clean them using a special sprey. I was ethical and commited during the project as I stayed until the end and did my best to make the masks look good. I took into account the global importance of this activity as leukemia is a global problem and we worked localy to help the people we could. The activity was often hard as it took longer then it normaly should have and the matereials weren’t fit for the task but I kept on working as I thought the end result would be worth it and enjoyed the process. Overall it was and interesting experience and I was excited for the trip to the hospital.
On the eleventh of December, Sunday, we went to Cebeci hospital with the TDP club. As most people were in MUN, there were only five of us coming from high school, the other people were from the university and had taken part in this project before. I was a little afraid of going as, while explaining the activity the older club members had stated that the children were very delicate and if we weren’t very careful with hygiene we could lead to their death, and if we used the wrong words and accidently talked about personal topics we could scar them emotionally. They said that even simple things such as saying “How are you” could have large consequences as the children aren’t feeling good at all and it makes them sad to think of their condition. I am also easily affected when I see people suffering so it would be very challenging for me to take part in this activity and I was quite hesitant in joining. But I also thought that I would confront my fears, develop as an individual and would be able to help someone who dearly needs support, as a result of all these thoughts I chose to go to the hospital. As we were going by bus, I went to the rendezvous point at nine o’clock and the others started coming at twenty past nine, the bus was supposed to leave at twenty-five past nine. However, there was a problem with the organisation, and it appeared that the room in which the materials required for the activity were kept, was locked. After the organisational problems were solved (which were not related to us) we went to the hospital. When we first arrived, we went on the third floor and there we put on our clown outfits and face masks. Unfortunately the masks we had made the day before lacked sticks, which would be used to hold them and therefore we could not give them to the children this week (Hopefully the group going next week will have the opportunity to do so). After the outfits were on, we washed our hands and went into the first room. The first child I met was really talkative and we played a board game together. Luckily I went in with one of the more experienced members so I was never left without guidance. It was a different experience seeing a glimpse of these children’s lives and I was moved. The activity was more relaxed than I had expected and it all went pleasantly, there were no misfortunes and mistakes. Afterwards, I went to the room of another, younger child who couldn’t speak Turkish (She only knew Arabic) and we played with playdough. She was really young and seeing her made me feel very sad and I felt like crying, but fortunately I held it in and put a smile on my masked face. I realised that I can control my emotions in moments like these, though I often have a hard time doing so. We went to the upper floor which had patients who were in better condition. We visited four more patients and talked with them about their favourite colour, animals and fruit. It was really nice seeing them smile and I felt a genuine feeling of “doing something good”. While doing this project I had to collaborate with the other people who went into the room and communicate with them so that we were on the same page while talking to the children. I learned how to communicate and interact with a child who has leukaemia. It was challenging for me because I had never done such a thing before and It seemed really scary as a seemingly small mistake could have dire consequences, by taking part in the activity I took a risk and challenged myself. The activity was tiring and I had to find extra time to take part in it, so I showed commitment by staying until the end, and even though it was hard at points and seemed scary before, I felt good after doing it. I realised that I am good at adapting to new situations after watching others and that I can communicate with these children who seem very fragile. However we weren’t always very organised as a club and I could have been more prepared and participated a little more. But I believe that I was very good overall. After seeing children who are going through incredible hardships, I learned to respect my wellbeing and to cherish it. During the activity I kept my mask on and didn’t get too close to the children (so that there isn’t a risk of infection) and cleaned my hands with antibacterial sanitiser after leaving a room. As the lives of these children are very fragile, I did my best to try to preserve them and act ethical. I also considered the global significance of this project as leukaemia is a problem that affects people all around the world. I tried to help my local community in solving this issue. In the end this activity felt really rewarding and added a lot to me.