Imagine that your newborn is hooked up for survival and hospitalized for 7 months. As a mother, all you could do was try to be there with her whenever you could. Shuffling daily from the North to the West to care for a premature baby back then started to take a toll on Joyce. To add to things, this mother soon felt the growing distance from her elder teenage daughter as she had to spend most of her waking moments at the hospital with her young baby.
“It was a very difficult phase for me. My baby was born at 24 weeks and on the day of delivery, nurses told me there’s no chance of survival. I was very sad. But when the doctor came in, he said there’s a 50/50 chance for my little girl, but it all depends on her. Indeed her fighting spirit was very strong, and she was delivered naturally,” Joyce recalls that fateful day but what she wasn’t prepared for were the arduous days and nights to come.
“It’s really not easy, my baby was in NICU and had tubes inserted all over her and fed through a hole in her throat. I couldn’t even carry her because she’s not well-developed at all. Her nails looked like thread. My heart was hurting to see her go through the pain and there was nothing much I can do except to be by her side every day. At least she knows her mummy is with her so she won’t be scared. Every day, I travelled from home to the National University Hospital (NUH) to be with her and also during this time, my elder girl started to feel neglected as I was spending lesser time with her at home. I was very worried that she will mix with the wrong company and the period was very tough for my family.”
A story like Joyce’s is real, but how many of such true revelations have we heard? Joyce’s daughter (who is named, Miracle) was just one of many stories in Singapore and the world at large.
“For many years, I’ve been staying by Miracle’s bed side and in between the day, find time to rush home to bathe and come back to her again. One day, the doctor approached me and said that there’s actually a Ronald McDonald House in NUH itself, for parents and caregivers who want to be with their sick children to stay there. That was in Feb 2013, and the program started in Jan 2013, so I was like one of the first occupants in that house”, jokes Joyce.
This petite and strong-willed lady is very thankful for the premises as it became a “home-away-from-home” where she can “step in to shower and recharge when my baby is sleeping and have some quiet time to myself”. At the same time, in a bid to work on the bond with her elder daughter, she invited her to stay with mummy on Fridays, so they can spend the weekends together with meimei. With her unconditional love and effort, mummy’s little fighter is now an active 6 year old.
So, what exactly is Ronald McDonald House? It might not be widely known in Singapore but the American fast food giant adopts and supports the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) on its special mission of improving the health and well-being of children all over the world. RMHC was setup in memory of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s because of his love for children. Since 1989, RMHC Singapore has helped eased the medical treatment costs of over 900 needy and sick children. The idea was to create a homely area for the caregivers and familes of those taking care of their hospitalized child, and hence the Ronald McDonald House was birthed.
How does RMHC help these children who are hospitalized? As of now, the Ronald McDonald House is at NUH Paediatric Department, and has served as a temporary nest to over 170 families since 2013. These efforts are presented to align with their main mission of delivering support and comfort to a child who is battling illness. In such situations of distress for the young patients, more often than not, it is the presence of their loved ones and family, who are the immediate caregivers and also the ones who can soothe the child with love and support to go through this journey by their side.
With its Grant Programme in place this year where funds are provided to support projects at several hospitals and non-profit/voluntary welfare organization, RMHC Singapore is also embarking on a Ronald McDonald Family Room at NUH, as well as a Ronald McDonald House at KKH next year. The loads of these families are lessen to ease the difficult times both financially and emotionally, so they are able to cope better.
Who does RHMC help? Many of these young patients receive treatment for cancer, trauma or undergo organ transplants and remain in the hospital for long periods. Judy Chun, Executive Director of RMHC, shared that a recent family who was with them had a boy who was “waiting for his time”. During periods like these, the parents and families often go through emotional rollercoaster rides and all they want is to spend as much time with their child as they can. This house allows them to focus on their child, instead of worrying about food, shelter and rest.
How can we help? Do you remember these McHappy Smiles? They were sold at all McDonald restaurants in a bid to raise funds for this charity! This year, as part of a global movement to celebrate RMHC’s 40th Anniversary, McDonald’s Singapore hopes you can help create awareness to garner donations for their cause with the famous red-and-white stripes!
And if you’ve been buying Happy Meals since you were a kid, or for your own kid now, you’d be happy to know that McDonald’s has been contributing 5 cents from every sale to this charity too! This year, share your stripes to get involved!
1. Get Your Socks and Show Your Stripes! Head to Groupon to grab Ronald’s signature red-and-white stripped socks and donate by choosing to purchase them at $10, $20 or $50. This donation option is on right now till 28 October only! As a gesture of appreciation for your kind donation, you get to enjoy a free Strawberry Sundae with compliments of McDonald’s. Feel free to redeem your sweet treat at any McDonald’s restaurant in Singapore! Alternatively, head on down to any McDonald’s restaurant to get your stripes!
2. Red-and-white Stripes FTW!
Put on your Ronald socks and challenge yourself with an #OOTD in your new pair of socks!
Look into your wardrobe and share your stripes!
Ham it up during Halloween!
3. Save the date – Be part of McHappy Day! Join in the fun at #forRMHC party this 16 Nov at Tampines Mall from 1 – 5pm to! There will be balloon sculpting, face painting for children and other games, so bring your kids for a day-out too! Volunteers will be helping to sell their signature red-and-white striped socks too, so do make a donation to get your pair and get snap-happy too! Psst: Ronald will be making an appearance as well, so catch a photo moment with him!
It was melancholic to listen to Joyce re-enact her story in front of me and I was very scared that she would start tearing (I could see tears welling up in her eyes already) and I was trying to hold the tap for fear of turning into Rudolph. I guess most of the times, we tend to take what we have for granted and often neglect to see the hidden stories of others.
Thank you OMY for the session – although McDonald’s is known to bring smiles to faces of the masses, let’s not forget to help put smiles on those hidden in the shadows. I’m thankful to be able to be a voice box for these families who need a helping hand from bodies like RMHC. Don’t forget to share your stripes and help spread the word to everyone in support of this cause!
For more information on RMHC Singapore and RMHC@NUH, visit: http://rmhc.org.sg/ . Volunteers are welcomed at the RMHC as well as the McHappy Day event – contact the folks at McDonald’s Singapore, pronto!