Support to “La Grande Casa di Peter Pan”: a Home for Families of Children with Cancer

Project location: Italy, Rome
Project start date: June 2012 - Project end date: May 2013
Project number: 2012-020
Beneficiary: Associazione Peter Pan Onlus


Time range for this final report: From June 2012 till May 2013

The project consists of supporting yearly maintenance costs of "La Grande Casa di Peter Pan", a big House made of three different adjacent buildings, able to accommodate 33 different families of children with cancer, situated in Rome close to Bambin Gesù Hospital. As a matter of fact, many families travel away from home to get treatment for their children with cancer at Rome Bambino Gesù and Policlinico Umberto I hospitals. These families usually come from other Italian Regions (about 80%), especially from the south, and also from foreign Countries (about 20%).

Peter Pan provides these family a "home-away from home"; in fact, Peter Pan not only provides a quiet and comfortable place to stay at no cost, but also provides help, assistance, warmth and various services offered by about 200 volunteers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and by a wide solidarity network made of other Organizations. Services include for instance transportation from/to Hospitals or Airports, educational and recreational activities for children, administration support to families, summer camps and holidays, etc.. Moreover, thanks to Peter Pan Houses, children can be more easily cured with day-hospital system, so spending less time at the Hospital, with enormous benefit for their psychological status and health.

With implementation of "La Grande Casa di Peter Pan project", the Association has increased its hospitality capacity by 30% (with actual 33 family rooms versus previous 25). This is going to drastically reduce current waiting lists, because requests from the Hospitals are unfortunately constantly increasing and in the past it was not always possible to timely satisfy all of them. The contribution granted by NPF, in particular, has supported estimated annual management, as of June 2012, of three family rooms of "La Grande Casa di Peter Pan", which includes rent, utilities, staff, cleaning services, insurance, material purchase, ongoing furniture and equipment maintenance.

As mentioned above, "La Grande Casa di Peter Pan" is made of three adjacent buildings. Two of them were already existing Peter Pan Houses, whereas the third one is a new one and has been just restored and opened to families in October 2012. The renovation has lasted about 20 months, more than originally planned, mainly due to some important and necessary extra works (unexpected at the beginning of the project), significant delay in getting electricity and long waiting in obtaining some important authorizations (the building is situated in centre of Rome and therefore some of the works needed legal permits).

From June 2012 till May 2013, "La Grande Casa di Peter Pan" hosted 130 families. Among these 130 families, 49 have arrived for the first time at our Houses, whereas the remaining 81 had been already hosted in the past years and have come back for further therapies and follow up. As a matter of fact, Peter Pan provides assistance for the whole length of the therapy along the years.

The total number of hospitality days for the children has been 5352, whereas it has been 12.624 for the relatives (parents, brothers/sisters, grandparents, etc.). Overall, 17.976 days of hospitality have been therefore offered at "La Grande Casa di Peter Pan" during the past 12 months. This shows an increase of about 22% compared to the average yearly numbers of past years, and this is a very good result considering that the new House was opened to families only in October 2012. In fact, in the first 5 months of 2013, the total number of hospitality days has been even till 40% greater than past years. This is helping to drastically reduce families' waiting list.

Children's age was quite low, with 30% of children being less than 5 years old, and 60% being less than 10 years old. On the other hand, 21% of children were older than 14. 51% of children were male. With regard to geographical origin, 77% of families came from Italy, especially from Puglia, Calabria, Campania and Sicilia, and 23% came from foreign Countries, especially from Romania, Venezuela, Romania and Libia. Great majority of hosted children, about 92%, came from Bambin Gesù Hospital, the remaining from Policlinico Umberto I. Moreover, 68% of children have been treated at Oncology Dept., 32% at Hematology. Majority of children (53%) spent up to 10 days at Peter Pan Houses. On the other hand, 24% stayed for more than 3 months till entire year. On average, children were cured for 72% of their time with day-care system, so going to the hospital just for daily treatment and coming back to Peter Pan Houses afterwards, with great benefit for their wellness and psychological health.

For many of these children, Peter Pan has offered the possibility to be cured and therefore a hope for surviving. Like the case of Noor, now 10 years old, coming from Libia. She arrived at Rome Bambino Gesù Hospital for the first time in 2005, with his father and a serious cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, in Libia there wasn't any Hospital able to treat her disease in the proper manner. After a couple of years, she came back to Libia with little hope to survive. When she came back to Rome, after 6 months for a follow up check, her exams showed a significant improvement. Her fight against cancer was going to give some encouraging results! Since then, she periodically comes back to Rome for further therapy and checks. Even during last year, in the fires of war in Libia, her father had to face lot of obstacles and dangers to be able to reach Rome as his daughter was experiencing serious pain and her life was at risk. She is a very strong girl and her fight against cancer is continuing... and every time she comes back to Peter Pan, she feels like at home.

Many families come from the Center/South of Italy, like the case of Anna, coming from Abruzzo. She arrived at Bambino Gesù Hospital when she was 3 years old, with serious cancer diagnosis and little chance to survive. The little girl with her parents therefore started commuting between Abruzzo and Rome for the therapies. After few years, her mother unfortunately died due to a car accident happened during one of these transfers. This was a drama for the whole family. Thanks to Peter Pan being able to host the entire family, the grandparents could be accommodated as well. This was fundamental to support the father and the little girl during each cycle of chemotherapy. Anna is now 11 years old, she comes back periodically for further therapies, results are encouraging however the road ahead is still very long.

In the next months and years, "La Grande Casa di Peter Pan" will continue offering accommodation and services to many other families of children with cancer coming from Italy and the rest of the world, giving them a chance to fight cancer and hope to survive.

Associazione Peter Pan Onlus
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