Chika Boca is registered parents association founded 3 years ago. It gathers over 100 parents of children treated for cancer and 80 young survivors. Our activities are focused on rehabilitation, providing psycho social support and improving mechanisms in the education and health care system. Occasionally we hire professionals, but most of the work is done with the help of volunteers – parents whose children have been treated and people of goodwill. We are active members of CCI (ex ICCCPO) and PanCare, as well as national networks MODS, Federation of Associations of patients Serbia and MPIO.
Cancer in childhood carries a higher survival rate than adults, thus leaving more intense effects on other life aspects of the treated children/youth. Our goal is to improve the quality of life of children and young cancer survivors through ensuring social inclusion and providing psycho social support to this vulnerable group.
We are able to work and fund projects thanks to donations from socially responsible companies and by organizing special fundraising humanitarian events like exhibitions, concerts and similar. We also write project proposals and for the year 2014, our donor for 12 months long project “Golden Minute” was VIP Mobile Serbia. Our yearly budget is aproximatly 25-40.000,00 EUR. We have office and equipment for organizational purposes and humanitarian Internet Radio MladiCe broadcasts (2 years old endevour lead by young cancer survivors for peer support and two way rehabilitation).
Our association conducted 3 specially tailored rehabilitation camps for children and teen treated with malignancy without accompanying parents since 2011. We have fostered foundation and development of group MladiCe and Internet radio they lead for peer support. We held multiple workshops for our target groups during camps and other activities, also hosted 2 regional Conventions for young survivors from 6 Balkan countries. Methods we use in all our similar efforts to enable social inclusion, reintegration and rehabilitation are scientifically and experience based and fully in accordance to EU and world standards in same field. In 2014 we held two similar open debates to sensibilize school staff and future professional doctors, psychologists and other related professions in Belgrade and Niš, and 2 more are to be held in Niš and Kragujevac in 2015.
Team is consisted of 2 experienced psychologists in the field as leaders and 10 young people who have had cancer in childhood and are gathered in peer support group MladiCe, age 16 to26 as consultance force. Beside their experience with malignancy treatment and returning to school, they completed tranings in social skills, critical thinking, self-confidence and self-esteem, assertiveness, negotiation and communication skills, conflict resolution, media presentation, encouraging development of emotional intelligence skills of learning. Also, part of the team are 2 parents with experience of treating their own child with many years of active management of parental association, rehabilitation camps, support to target group and regional networking. All of team members have regular sessions within Psychological Counceling Centre since 2014.
Although in some countries school re-entry programs exist since 70-ties, the obvious need for assistance of this type is not yet recognized in Serbia, even hundreds of kids and teenagers all over Serbia face this as a problem each year. In an ideal case, there should be a team that, in addition to school personnel trained for working with children treated for malignancies or other life style changing conditions, include the medical staff who treated the child (even during active treatment).
Unfortunately, in our country the formation of such a team is not enabled, so the role of mediators and educators in the process of transition from long term stay in hospital to school re-entry seems left as a big hole in a wall and we, as parents associations must find a way to implement it and promote as good practice, while putting a pressure on institutions for implementation of such inclusive education. We are here to facilitate the process of inclusion in schools, which primarily involves sensitization and training of teachers, peers and parents. Education is a right, like the right to have proper food or a roof over your head. Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to education”. It is not only a right but a passport to human development and inclusive society. It opens doors and expands opportunities and freedoms. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child specifically states that “At its core, inclusive education is a set of values, principles and practices that seeks meaningful, effective, and quality education for all students, that does justice to the diversity of learning conditions and requirements not only of children with disabilities, but for all students”. This project goes with overall strategic plan for creating inclusive environment for target groups by spreading good practice and gathering professionals to support inclusive education using carefully tailored innovative approach with inclusion of survivors to share experience and foster first hand transfer of knowledge to their peers and other actors involved.