The story of Manika Lama and Smile for Hope
Manika Lama, a sweet, kind and determined little five year old from Karmidanda – a small village in the central district of Rasuwa in Nepal – has been diagnosed with High Risk Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. She is now in Kathmandu for treatment and has so far been responding well to the chemotherapy. However, Manika comes from an underprivileged background and for a vital chance of survival she will need health-care for the coming two and a half years and funds are urgently needed for chemotherapy, suitable nutrition and adequate housing for Manika and her father in Kathmandu.
Dr. Erin Moore from the US, working for an NGO in Rasuwa referred Manika’s case to the Cancer Council Nepal who then got in touch with Smile for Hope. Manika’s family cannot afford the treatment needed but funds are now crucial for Manika’s survival.
Being a cancer patient in Nepal comes with strong taboos and stigmas and generally someone afflicted will be considered an outcast. In the remote villages, where education is not a given, cancer can even be regarded as contagious. Those suffering the illness, including their families, will find themselves isolated and not only do they have to deal with their fate but with insufficient funds and a complete lack of emotional, social and psychological support, making their situation even worse.
Families with their afflicted children who travel to Kathmandu, sometimes a two to three-day walk, end up living there under appalling circumstances. And this complete absence of hygiene seriously jeopardizes their chance of recovery.
Despite the same treatment protocol as used in the western world, chances of survival in Nepal are 10 to 14 % compared to 85 to 90% in developed countries for the same form of cancer. Death is usually due to infections, very low immunity and lack of adequate nutritional, emotional and psychological support.
Dr. Moore approached many NGO’s for help and was turned down because of the costs involved. But at Smile for Hope our commitment to Manika and her family is not only financial. While Manika is in professional hands with her treating doctor, Dr. Prakash at the Kanti Hospital in Kathmandu, Smile for Hope is invested in providing her with the medication she needs and making sure all holistic aspects such as appropriate housing in Kathmandu, wholesome nutrition and psychological and emotional support for her and her family, are covered. Manika, like all her little contemporaries deserves a viable chance to build and keep the strength to fight and live.