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Making Good Things Happen

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Making Good Things Happen Making Good Things Happen

On a Tuesday morning last week, a young child grappling with cancer saw her only wish come true. All Sana wanted was to see her father at work and how cars are made at the automotive factory where he works.

Her wish was granted through an initiative by a group of four young philanthropists who have come together to do just that, making children with life-threatening diseases happy by making their wishes come true.

The first publicized event of the group took place a month back when a young girl, Mahdis, who wished for fame, was taken shopping and then escorted by a number of volunteers posing as bodyguards to a musical concert as the guest of honor.

What the group “Voroojaka” (literally ‘the mischievous ones’) does, is to grant the “wishes” of children with life-threatening medical conditions, something similar to the experience of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a non-profit organization in the United States.

The Tehran-based Voroojaka is supported by several universities including Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and is a platform for connecting terminally-ill children with people or organizations that want to engage in a kind act, but lack the right resources.

“The idea was initiated in February 2015 during a startup weekend at Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology where students were to design and implement an idea in 72 hours,” its mastermind Mohammad Reza Baghdadi, told the Financial Tribune.

“Together with my team, we presented the idea on a website following months of research and consultation with specialists and charity organizations.”

Baghdadi is only 25 years, and has a degree in electronic engineering from Islamic Azad University. He is currently completing his military service and thought he would do something meaningful in the meantime.

There are organizations focused on medical and financial support to families with children suffering from a deadly disease, but none specializing in elevating children’s morale and inner state of mind.

“At a time when everyone is engrossed with their cell phones and tablets, I thought such technology could be harvested to further that cause, to help improve the emotional state of suffering children.”

Baghdadi says what they do is not merely help make a wish come true, but they look scientifically at the experience. “We study how going through such an experience affects the children’s psyche and response to treatment as well as the family’s manner of coping with the situation.”

Medical specialists, including pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and charities, volunteers and supporters in big numbers have helped advance the Voroojaka vision to help children diagnosed with severe medical conditions.

 Empowerment

According to the results of a 2011 Wish Impact Study by the Make-A-Wish Foundation that surveyed involved parents, health professionals, and volunteers, a wish come true empowers children with life-threatening medical conditions to fight harder against their illnesses.

When kids are granted a wish, they get more than just a great experience for a day, two days, or a week. That experience improves the quality of life for them and their entire family.

Health professionals treating them say the wish experience is an important adjunct to medical treatment, and they observe their patients feel better and comply more readily with treatment protocols when they experience their wish come true.

A combined 89% of doctors, nurses and health professionals surveyed say they believe a wish experience can influence wish kids’ physical health and 99% of parents reported that it gave their children increased feelings of happiness.

 How It Works

Voroojaka deals with children under the age of 18, who are either not responding to treatment or are spending the last days of their lives, or those that have given up hope and the fight against their medical condition.

Each wish is registered by the group on its online portal. Once a volunteer is found to help make the wish come true, and after the required verification processes, the experience is planned and organized. Children, their parents, or doctors can refer a child to the group. The entire process comes free.

“Getting children to express their wishes without inhibitions is difficult due to the cultural background and financial state of most children we are dealing with. We also have to decide what kind of wishes should be granted, since some of them are unusual and may negatively influence the children or their families once they’re back from the wondrous moment.”

Although the group aims to foster “a culture of giving without expecting anything in return” and institutionalize it in the society, it is vital to implement the idea properly, as dealing with such children and their emotional state is a very sensitive task.

“Months of studying and research have gone into executing the idea and a small slip can leave adverse effects on children and their families.”

Despite being active for months and reaching out to dozens of children, the group has stayed away from media publicity, primarily because the members wish to remain anonymous and further the deed more than the doer, as “it is not a matter of fame or popularity,” Baghdadi said.

 The Doers  

“Most people think a wish is an exclusive, luxurious and out-of-reach thing that demands a lot of money, time, and energy. But that notion is wrong; we encourage people to get involved in an altruistic act and enjoy the experience, without spending too much money and by just becoming a link in the process.”

Making wishes come true is not difficult. Children do not have extravagant desires, and helping them cope with or survive their plight is simpler than many might think. “That is the cause we are trying to advance.”

Voroojaka’s activities will see expansion to other areas. Baghdadi says the group plans entrepreneurship programs for parents and family members, to help them get engaged in productive activities, both to forget their problems for a while, and also to help them with medical expenses.

“This phase will become operational as of next year in cooperation with a group of social entrepreneurs.”

 

Financialtribune.com