I’d like to tell you the story of my friend Salleh. His name has been changed, but his story is real.
Several years ago in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a husband, father, and fruit-stall vendor named Salleh was diagnosed with blood cancer. Though the treatment he needed was covered by the government healthcare system, Salleh was left with a terrible choice: he could take time off work to receive treatment, but his eldest son would have to abandon school and support the family in Salleh’s stead. Salleh decided to keep working so his eldest could finish high school, but tragically, just a few months later Salleh’s lymphoma worsened and he passed away.
The Max Schooling Project – A Wraparound Solution
Inspired by all-too-common stories like Salleh’s, The Max Schooling Project (“Projek Sambung Sekolah” in Malay) was launched in 2014 to enable the children of cancer patients to continue their educations and graduate from Form Five – the equivalent of high school in Malaysia.
A joint initiative of the Hematology Department Hospital Ampang, The Max Foundation, and the Max Family Society Malaysia, The Max Schooling Project helps families by providing both financial and non-financial assistance as incentives for families to keep their children in school while one of the parents is undergoing cancer treatment.
The financial assistance helps children buy books, pay for transportation to school, take part in extra school-activities, and share in social events like enjoying a fruit drink with peers during recess. For non-financial assistance, we provide emotional support and care directly to the recipient families each month. This close emotional support is critical to minimizing the impact of cancer on patients and their families.
The Max Schooling Project allows patients in need to be more focus in their cancer treatment and thus reduce default rate. This will eventually help patients to complete treatment regime & may be cure disease. At the same time, their children get to go to school for continue education without additional stress.
— Dr. Toh, South Region, Malaysia
We believe The Max Schooling Project will help shape these children into positive change-makers within their families and communities while empowering their patient parents to be adherent in their treatment journey so they can achieve the best possible outcome.
Access to Treatment Requires Wraparound Support
Salleh’s example demonstrates that, without wraparound support, a catastrophic illness like cancer can ruin a family – not only emotionally and physically, but financially as well. The illness affects different aspects of life for each family member, including educational opportunities for the children.
Education is such a critical change agent in social and economic development. No one should have to choose between undergoing cancer treatment and educating their children. That’s what we believe at The Max Foundation, and that’s why we decided to do something about it.
Donors Make the Difference
As of November 2018, The Max Schooling Project has supported 70 children in total; 11 of those have completed high school, and 2 have continued on to local universities. The project currently supports 59 children and, thanks to our donors and supporters, will continue to support them through 2019.
We are so thankful to our key donor, AA Pharmacy Malaysia, who has renewed their commitment to the program and generously increased their financial support for 2019, saying: “We are grateful to have the platform provided by The Max Foundation to enable children of cancer patients to continue learning and schooling; we are proud to be part of this initiative.” Thanks to their increased financial support, The Max Schooling Project can make program improvements and find new ways to better support these children and their parents.
We are also grateful to the public community in Malaysia for playing the critical role of “adopter” for these children. Each “adopter” adopts an identified child, channeling that child’s financial assistance in coordination from The Max Foundation and Max Family Society Malaysia. Since the project began in 2014, 50 individuals and organizations have served as “adopters.”
Grief for the Past, Hope for the Future
Though The Max Schooling Project has been a great success, it’s hard not to look back and wonder what might have been. If our program had been in place when Salleh was first diagnosed, he would have been able to focus on receiving treatment, and his children would have been able to continue their schooling. Salleh might still be with us today, and so would many others.
With a heavy heart for the past and bright hope for the future, I am calling on everyone to reimagine what lies ahead for these cancer patients and their children. By working together, we can empower them during their time of greatest need.
We hope (the Max Schooling Project) serves as a gesture that the society is in solidarity with the needy segments of our community, to help them face challenging time together. It is also important to let the children have some pocket money so they can join some activities with their classmates. Growing up like other children is important in shaping one’s esteem.
— Dr. TC Ong, Central Region, Malaysia
To support the Max Schooling Project and other critical wraparound services for patients facing cancer, make a donation today!