Angels of Love Jamaica
In many ways, Rusheka Anderson is like any rambunctious five-year-old. But as her mother Shecker Anderson will tell you, little Rusheka is in a battle far greater than her size.
Last October Rusheka bumped her leg while playing around the house. It became swollen, and an X-ray revealed she had a fracture. She was made to wear a cast, however, when it was removed her leg was red and swollen. An MRI followed by a biopsy would later reveal that the little girl had a condition called Rhabdomyosarcoma.
Rhabdomyosarcoma is a tumour of the muscles that are attached to the bones. It is very rare and usually occurs in the head, neck, urogenital tract, arms, and legs.
Anderson remembers the day Rusheka was told she had to have her leg amputated. "To her, it came as nothing. When she heard she was about to lose her leg, she was saying, this is how I'm going to walk, and started jumping on one leg," she said.
"On the day of the surgery, when everyone was crying, she said, 'don't cry, ah soon come back.' At times, I don't remember that she has one leg. She is just as active as before. Nothing has changed."
Rusheka is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment every 21 days. Her mother home-schools her.
Rusheka is one of the beneficiaries of Angels of Love Jamaica (AOLJ). Founded in 2009, by Philip Liu and his wife, the aim of AOLJ is to provide emotional and financial support to critically ill, underprivileged children across Jamaica. According to chairperson of the Kingston chapter of AOLJ, Miss Jamaica Middlesex Royanne De Silva, what makes the charity unique is the overwhelming prevalence of young volunteers and the personal relationship that they have with their little angels. "We host their birthday parties, Christmas treats, Easter treats and consistently strive to make the rest of their lives, the best of their lives," she explained to Outlook.
The month of September is observed as Child Cancer Awareness month, and De Silva tells Outlook that she became involved in the organisation as a 16-year-old student at Glenmuir High School. The organisation has 13 chapters and is run primarily on public donations. "The 'spare change' that Jamaicans donate has led to us being able to sponsor life-saving treatment for our little angels," noted De Silva. "Corporate Jamaica has also noticed the work of our organisation and supports us in various ways. For example, Island Grill has provided meals for most of our treats throughout the years."
This year, Island Dolls is also assisting the organisation with a donation of 100 dolls and stuffed animals, some of which AOLJ will sell to raise funds. "We had a treat for our little angels at Buzzers Arcade in Portmore and we gifted 14 of them with teddy bears from Beverly Robotham of Island Dolls. The other dolls will be on sale at Reader's Book Store in Liguanea. They are truly one of a kind. Some are even bald, which was a special request from a child with cancer," said De Silva.
According to DeSilva, the aim of the organisation is to "make the rest of their lives, the best of their lives."
- For more information on how you can help visit: www.angelsofloveja.org.