Demanding families slept on hospital floors until a doctor started a shelter


Day by day, she noticed families sleeping on the floors.

Many of them, he learned, had come from distant villages with little or no money to receive medical care for their children.

Navigating the difficult territory of the country – which extends to the Andes mountains in the Amazon – often means passing through unpaved roads and can make a dangerous journey.

"The trip is very difficult," Pun-Chong said. "People have to cross the mountains or take a boat to cross the river, it may take several days, just imagine having this trip with a cancer child."

Far from home and their loved ones and incapable of paying for a place to stay in Lima, many families were found homeless while fighting for the lives of their children.

"I could not find the image of the families sleeping on the floor by my mind," said Pun-Chong. "So I decided to do something about them."

Since 2008, the non-profit company Pun-Chong, Inspira, provides free housing, meals and total support for sick children and their families while undergoing treatment. The organization helped more than 900 families who have come from all over Peru.

Pun-Chong, who lives a few blocks from the shelter and is almost daily, organizes the organization with the help of a small staff and an army of passionate volunteers. He spends all the holidays with the families there.

"Children inspire me daily," said Pun-Chong. "When I am with these children, and I feel how strong they are, I understand that there are no problems we can not solve."

CNN's Laura Klairmont spoke to Pun-Chong about his work. Below is a modified version of their conversation.

CNN: What are the barriers that these families face?

Ricardo Pon-Chong: We have people coming from the Amazon, traveling by boat and from there getting a bus. And you are with a sick child with a fever. Once they reach the city, they have no resources. Sometimes they do not speak Spanish. speak Quechua, Aymara or other dialects.

For leukemia, the most common cancer in children, the first treatment is about six months. But to stay here is very expensive. Sometimes families, have to sell what they have. They feel helpless. They really feel alone. They either have to do the job and stay, or make the difficult journey back home without their children receiving full treatment.

CNN: What kind of environment did you create in the shelter?

Pun-Chong: The shelter is a very special place. We did not just want people to have a place to sleep and eat food, we also wanted to create a place to help children get cured. It's a place with a lot of love.

I do not want to feel like home, I want to feel like home. In the shelter we do not have television because I prefer to talk to children and teach them how to create things. I want to use their imagination.

Families can stay in our shelter as much as they need and I want them to know they are not alone, there are many people who are with them.

CNN: What is the only approach you follow with children?

Pun-Chong: Here we live daily, but we are not talking about tumors and surgeries and cancer. When I go to the shelter, I leave the stethoscope in my house. I come here as Ricardo, not as a doctor. I want each of them to feel special. I try to raise the spirits of these children who are probably undergoing surgery. I play and have fun with them and I assure that during this harsh period, these children just get to act like children.

We do everything we can to connect and work with them. We hear the stories, the color, the color, the play in the park, the bikes. We try to give these children special things and special experiences. I try to make them laugh, enjoy themselves. I want these children to play, to learn, to share. I want to help them be the happiest they can be.

Do you want to get involved? check it Inspira Website and see how to help.

To donate to Inspira, click the CrowdRise widget below.