Hospital provides free accommodation and kitchen to families with sick children

Cai Wenjun
"Xiaobu Family" offers free accommodation to disadvantaged families with children, undergoing treatment at the Children's Hospital. Now, they've also provided a free kitchen.
Cai Wenjun

Shot by Dong Jun. Edited by Dong Jun. Subtitles by Cai Wenjun.

The "Xiaobu Family" program offers free accommodation to poor families bringing their children for treatment at the Children's Hospital of Fudan University.

After running the "Xiaobu Family" for two years, which offers free accommodation to poor families from other provinces who are undergoing treatment at the Children's Hospital of Fudan University, the charity program launched a shared kitchen on Wednesday.

"Family doesn't just mean a place with a bed, but also somewhere warm and cozy where patients and their families can relax. Self-cooked food, especially with hometown flavors, can bring comfort to these people," said Dr Xu Hong from the hospital, which teamed up with charity organizations to kick off the free home program, with 25 rooms at an apartment building near the hospital.

All rooms are equipped with electronic appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and other necessities. To facilitate transportation between the building and the hospital, a free and exclusive shuttle bus is also available for children and their families.

Since November 2020, the program has offered over 14,000 nights of free accommodation to some 1,000 families, who came to Shanghai for their children. Many such children have serious diseases.

"About 70 percent of patients with severe diseases at our hospital are from other provinces. In addition to offering high-quality medical services, we want to give them a temporary 'home' with lights on in the big city of Shanghai," Xu said.

Hospital provides free accommodation and kitchen to families with sick children
Dong Jun / SHINE

Pianist Kong Xiangdong makes dessert with children together at the newly launched shared kitchen.

The criteria for living in "Xiaobu Family" is from other provinces, child with serious disease and the family with financial difficulty, the hospital officials said.

Such family can apply to the department which receives their child and provide document from the neighborhood or village committee of their hometown to confirm their situation. The hospital's social work department and foundations supporting the program will do evaluation.

Li Xin, a mother with a 4-year-old girl suffering from brain cancer, expressed her gratitude to the program and all people who have helped her family.

She has lived in the "Xiaobu Family" for half a year. With a last bit of hope, she brought her daughter to Shanghai and received a successful surgery at the Children's Hospital of Fudan University in July last year.

"She's recovering well but needs long-term chemotherapy. We decided to live in Shanghai for the treatment. But the expenses are a heavy burden. We have used up all our savings and borrowed money for my daughter's treatment. We must be careful with every penny apart from the medical bills," she said. "The free accommodation really helps us. It's really become a home with every necessity and volunteers available, when we are cornered."

At "Xiaobu Family", there are volunteers who manage the facilities and professionals offer free psychological guidance.

"Many parents are very anxious due to their children's diseases. We offer regular mental direction and sometimes crisis intervention for emergencies. For children, we organize games and provide toys to help them relax during medical treatment," said Lu Xialing, a psychologist working as a volunteer. "After they return home, we also follow their condition and provide long-term psychological support."

Parents said the shared kitchen is a great way to cook special dishes for their children, and it also helps create another place for families to communicate with each other.

Local enterprises and residents also provide sponsorship to the program or serve as volunteers.

Pianist Kong Xiangdong went to the shared kitchen to make dessert with children at the "Xiaobu Family" together.

"These children are very lovely. I want to offer more help to them," he said.

Hospital provides free accommodation and kitchen to families with sick children
Dong Jun / SHINE

Children stir eggs while making dessert.

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