Tyas was six years old when Valencia Mieke Randa, founder of Rumah Harapan (house of hope), found her in the Grogol slum of Jakarta. Tyas had been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. “The doctors and her family had given up on her. They said she only had a few months left to live. Though she needed palliative care, nobody looked after her,” says Valencia, 43, known as Silly.
Though the doctors and her family had given up, Silly decided to bring Tyas to Rumah Harapan. There, Silly and volunteers took care of her. Silly cleaned and disinfected her wounds, where she had been bitten by rats. She also took Tyas to the cinema, malls, restaurants and salons. “She had limited time. Before she died, I wanted her to feel loved. For me, she was like a plane that’s already going down. We can try to help her to land softly, instead of a crash landing,” she says.
After eight months, Silly took Tyas for a PET scan. “We got a shocking result. The cancer cells had miraculously vanished. Tyas showed us that miracles still exist,” says Silly. Tyas is now staying permanently at Rumah Harapan with other children.
Rumah Harapan was established in 2014. Aside from Tyas, Rumah Harapan is home for dozens of children needing palliative care, all provided at no cost to the children and their families. Besides Jakarta, earlier this year, Silly set up Rumah Harapans in Bandung and Makassar. In Bandung, Rumah Harapan is taking care of 24 children, while in Makassar, the team has eight children. Silly is also preparing Rumah Harapans in Aceh, Surabaya and Bali.
“Why we want to set a Rumah Harapan in Bali is because we saw many patients and their families sleep in Sanglah hospital’s hallways, as they had nowhere to stay in Bali,” says Silly, adding that many patients in Sanglah were coming from Sumba, East and West Nusa Tenggara.
Before Rumah Harapan, Silly started the Three Little Angels foundation in 2011 (Rumah Harapan evolved out Three Little Angels). Three Little Angels aims to help children with critical illnesses from less-fortunate families by providing a facility to care for the children so parents can keep working and lose income by staying at home to look after them. Other aid comes in the form of paying for everything from medicines to funerals if necessary.