Contributed by Glynisia Yeo
In March 2009, a group of humanitarian workers visited a hospital in Honduras as part of their feeding program for underprivileged children. Upon entering the neurosurgery ward, the team was not prepared to face what greeted them. Many of the children who were warded were suffering from hydrocephalus, a condition where fluid is retained in the brain, resulting in a bizarre enlargement of the head.
Troy Marshall, who is the International Liaison Director for Sun Life Foundation (SLF), returned to the USA and spoke to Sun, an American-based Singaporean pop star who is known for her humanitarian work in Asia. He talked to her about the trip and described what he saw there, showing the pictures of the children suffering from hydrocephalus. Sun immediately agreed to help in this project and pledged to donate proceeds from her music album sales. This project also spurred her to set up the Sun Life Foundation (Honduras) which is committed to providing practical help in terms of donations and medical care.
Marshall shared, “As we did our background check on these patients and hospital staff, we found out that this was a recurring problem, with at least five new cases every week. The hydrocephalus condition is actually a very solvable problem and can be easily avoided but due to poor hygiene and nutrition, many families are affected.
“More than just providing food, this trip made us realize that we should do even more to help these children in a practical way. We decided to bring in shunts (small devices to help drain the fluid from the brain) and treat these children. We knew we had to arrange something fast in order to alleviate the situation; otherwise, many more children would die because their parents are too poor to afford medical treatment.”
Because of SLF’s contributions, many of the major mass media in Honduras suddenly took notice of this Asian female singer in their country. The local government and many of its people expressed their appreciation, citing how touched they were that a foreigner would devote her time, effort and money in helping their people.
To date, the Sun Life Foundation (Honduras) has donated hundreds of shunts to this cause, partnered with local authorities in raising awareness of this medical condition, and has begun work on constructing its new surgery centre. Seventeen successful operations have been performed and more are being planned as collaborations with local authorities and medical professionals continue.
To find out how you can do your part and help donate to this cause, log on to http://sunlifehonduras.org.