A new interesting and meaningful cooperation was established the last year between brand Piskacie and non-profit organisation Deťom s rakovinou n.o. (Childhood cancer NPO), granting the whole amount of profit to the foundation. We met with the director of foundation Katarína Bagľašová a Lukáš Kuppé in newly reconstructed premises of the department of pediatric haematology and oncology at the University hospital Kramare. They told us more about their activities and the way raised donor funds are being drawn on.
What is the main aim of your organization?
L a K: Our department of pediatric oncology provides patients with the same treatment as they are given in foreign countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Australia. The fragile immunity system of our patients during the cytostatic therapy and objective to sustain the increasing rate of successfully treated cases requires modern and safe facilities in compliance with the highest sanitary standards.
That is our goal. To help by any means possible. We would like to contribute to the innovation process of pediatric oncology in Slovakia in general so our kids can rely on the western European standard of treatment, enhancing their chances of recovery.
Communication skill of personnel is one of our four priorities. Last year training was focused on respectful communication and this year topic is dedicated to the ethical code. We believe that pleasing atmosphere within our team might have a beneficial impact on our clients and their families.
Another priority is psychological and material aid to families. Since the department does serve as their second home, it must be equipped sufficiently. We secure a provision of nappies, laundry detergents, disinfectants, kitchen equipment etc, everything they might need to help alleviate the burden of their situation.
L: The third aim is awareness. We are attending various festivals to spread the word in the public, we try to describe how does this situation look like and what do families have to face. Educate people about the diagnosis and number of successful treatment cases. People should know that the odds are not as bad as public deems when hearing the word such as cancer or leukaemia.
K: Our intention is to speak openly, publicly and overcome the stigma of fear. Naturally, it is and always has been shocking news to hear.
The four aim is to modernize the premises. The initial step of process focused on the daily clinic for outpatient care, day treatments and check-ups. It allows oncology patients with a good medical state to spend more time at home since hospitalization after chemotherapy dosage is not necessary in certain cases. Dayroom for minor patients has been refurbished and we have recently opened renovated inpatient unit for kids up to 6 years of age. There is a new air-condition system with high standard air filters, crucial for treatment progress of kids.
How many people are on the team?
K: At this moment there are four employees. I am a managing director. There is Nicol, responsible for social networking. Katka handles department operation, material aid to families and regular parental meetings, occasionally plans free-time activities. Last but not least person in our team is Dáša and she works as a relationship manager. She takes care of department personnel but she ultimately helps everybody around. Actually, there are much more people involved and even though they are not visible each of them is highly skilled and helps as much as it gets.
L: My job position is not easily described. I am responsible for fundraising, but also project management and public relations.
How did your cooperation with Piskacie and Martinus begin?
L: As I joined the organization I came up with a few things which could have been done differently and I also pointed to some of the weakness. Public knowledge of our organisation was one of them. We were thinking how to improve PR, promote marketing and eventually decided to create our own merch. Piskacie as clothing brand was one of the options. We set that idea aside for a while but after meeting with Mediacom plan to connect the organization with Piskacie team was brought back to consideration.
Kids love squeaky t-shirts by Piskacie, they make them happy and are much beloved by parents too. We all found this idea worth trying and decided to approach the team of Piskacie. The whole preparation process took a while, we were working on the visualisation of applique. The cooperation began in mid-February 2019 and public demand exceeded our expectations, the idea was a social media hit. Even people from Piskacie were put under strain regarding a number of orders but we did our best to advertise this idea in the correct way to public and customers understood a good cause behind it. It is fair to say that squeaky t-shirts took Pohoda festival by storm and the whole project was amazing.
Collaboration between Martinus and our organisation dates back to 2018 and project called Prečítané leto (Summer with books) arranged by Martinus and library in Petržalka which took place in our premises. They used to come once a week for readings and filled up our library as an additional value. Once our cooperation with brand Piskacie began, I mentioned that to the management of Martinus and they loved it. They backed up the idea and decided to sell merch t-shirts.
What are your feelings about collaboration with Piskacie so far?
L: I guess the main contribution of the project has been a public acknowledgement. It was necessary to talk to people and explain details of the idea which they supported. Another positive element was naturally raising a rather generous sum of money. We did not even expect it at the beginning. It worked really nicely, Piskacie is a love brand.
K: It was lovely to see that people are keen to help. Many times they do not know how exactly but those t-shirts presented a great opportunity for them to do so.
How do you intend to use the collected money?
K: Our target for the following month or two is to refurnish the conference room. It is being used mainly by doctors, nurses and other personnel, sometimes parents of kids hospitalized at this department. Different medical consultations, so-called tumour boards and second opinion meetings with foreign specialists all take place in there. Purpose of such meetings is to provide each child without exception the highest treatment standard, care and medical consultation with top-ranked specialists in Slovakia and abroad. There is an urgent need to set up a video conference system allowing doctors to share medical reports, images and therefore consult individual patients among each other.
What are your future plans? Can you tell us how to get involved and help?
There is an upcoming campaign to contribute by 2% benefit of the tax return. Right now we are drawing up a report on financial investments within the pediatric department during organisation existence. Up to this moment we have raised 1500 000€ concerning solely financial gifts. The report does not include specific items, material, drugstore products, electronics or toys. The overall sum might be much higher. We are grateful for any kind of aid.
L: A lot of times it is a simple human contact which values the most and it often leads to particular kind help: one might bring ice lollies during summer, another a birthday cake for some of the patients. A person willing to help can do so regardless of money or human sources. Look at Martinus and their selling of t-shirts for example. The company helping with what they can do the best. That is a great way to get involved.
K: Zero-waste approach is also very important for us. It is a thought we try to promote among our donors. We treat kids to bring them back to normal life. They deserve to enjoy a healthy environment, just like everybody else, therefore, we want to protect it.
We do our best to improve day by day, according to our possibilities and needs. Since our establishment in 2015 we have successfully managed a few nice projects and all thanks to people who support us whether on a regular basis or as a one-time donation. And we are beyond grateful to all of you.
Text: Martina Ráczová, Foto: Dávid Hanko