Providing better sanitation for children with leukaemia

Often short of funds, the National Cancer Hospital at Maharagama is dependent to a great extent on private contributions to fulfil its mission. The toilet facilities at the hospital’s Children’s Leukaemia Ward had fallen into a dilapidated and insanitary condition, putting the young patients housed in the ward, many of whom are being treated with immunosuppressive drugs, at high risk from infection.

Putting contributions amounting to more than Rs. 1.2m (as well as their own time and energy) to good use, MillenniumIT staff members renovated the facilities; discovering the rewards of making a personal, hands-on contribution in a worthy cause.

Meet the volunteers

Cancer Hospital Project

Sajith Premadasa

It was really great being part of a wonderful team helping the kids at the Cancer Hospital have a better life. Our work will help keep patients in the Children’s Leukaemia Ward free from bacterial infection – ultimately, I hope, making it possible to reduce their medication. The happy faces I saw during the handing-over ceremony made me realize the value of the work I’d been doing for the past three months.

A big thank you to everyone who helped us make this a success, and special thanks to Dilushi, Manoj, Umesh, Samanthie, Diyanthi and Sampath.
Manoj Bandara

These children and their parents come from far away, often from very remote parts of the country. The children have to face the horrible reality of life with cancer, while their parents must not only share this reality but also shoulder the added financial burden of travel and living away from home while accompanying their children. They may lose jobs and income and have to leave their other children for long periods of time. On top of this, having to watch their children suffer from infections contracted in an unhygienic hospital toilet is really too much.

We broke the existing toilets down and re-built them completely – doors, windows, floor and wall tiles, sanitary equipment. We ensured that the new toilets had proper ventilation and plenty of sunlight. It was hard work, but one of the most satisfying things I’ve done in my life.
Diyanthi Jayamanne

It chokes you up when these little children look at you with pain in their eyes. It’s as if they’re asking us, ‘why me’? It’s not as if we helped them get cured or anything, but at least we’ll help them go home a little sooner by reducing their risk of infection.
Roshan Ganepola

It was such a gratifying experience to witness the joy on the children’s faces when we presented them with gifts at the handing-over ceremony. The hospital staff told us that the toilets we built for Ward 15C are the best in the hospital. I’m really glad I had a chance to be involved in this project!
Sampath Ganege

White-collar workers like us tend to have sedentary, routine lifestyles. Getting involved in CSR initiatives like this is a great way to break away from the routine while still involving yourself in a useful task.

The moment I set foot in the children's ward, of the Cancer Hospital, I felt such helplessness and sorrow. I realised these young children don’t have a childhood: they can’t go to school, can’t go out to play with their friends. Trying to make their lives better was my motivation to participate in this project.

"When we made our initial visit, the condition of the toilets and showers in the ward was quite appalling". There were only three toilets for the whole ward, with very poor ventilation and drainage and wet, dirty, dangerously slippery floors – it was evident that wall tiles had been used as floor tiles. For the young patients and their mothers, a visit to the toilet was a nightmare.

"We rebuilt the toilets pretty much from the ground up. We added windows with powder-coated frames, had the area completely re-wired and installed energy-saving bulbs. During one of our early discussions, there were questions as to what space was available for us to expand the washing area to provide more toilets and showers. At this point we were delighted to have the senior medical consultants of the hospital actively involve themselves to help work out solutions so that project could be properly completed. According to them, access to hygienic toilets can reduce rate of infection amongst children with cancer by 90%, so this really was worth doing and they were strongly supportive."