First Sunday Club: Karuna – June 2010
Before I dive in to this month’s First Sunday Club selection, I wanted to take a moment to thank readers for their generosity so far. You donated thousands of dollars to Southside Education to help them continue providing a nurturing educational environment for young women from challenging backgrounds. In particular, I’d like to give three cheers to Woolworths whose Queensland staff recently raised $11,350 to give to the school. Similarly, the Pyjama Foundation (our May charity) is in the process of being inundated with new pyjamas for the foster children they assist.
This month I’ve chosen an organisation that holds a special place in my heart – mostly because I’ve been able to witness first hand the work they do.
Karuna is a free Buddhist palliative care service. Their mission is to support terminally ill patients – and their loved ones – and help grant them their desire to die in the comfort of their own home surrounded by the people and things they love.
I was first introduced to Karuna ten years ago when my best friend’s father was terminally ill with cancer. After months of hospital treatment, Katie’s dad decided he wanted to spend his final months at home.
That’s where Karuna stepped in. They offered free access to highly trained and specialised palliative care nurses, counselling, social work services, spiritual support and volunteers who were on hand to do everything from running simple errands for the family to reading aloud to patients. I want to stress you don’t need to be Buddhist to access their free services. Katie will tell you her father was not a religious man by any stretch of the imagination!
It’s ten years since her father died but I asked Katie to explain the impact Karuna had on her family and specifically, on her dad.
“When our worst fears about Dad’s illness became an inevitability, we wanted to support his desire to die at home in the heart of his family; without Karuna, we couldn’t have done it. Their nurses supported us in the technicalities of caring for dad and took care of the big stuff for us in a beautifully calm and patient way. The organisation itself helped with the resources, equipment and logistics of home care and volunteers, nurses, counselors, a doctor and even a Buddhist nun or two were respectfully on call around the clock if required. Karuna helped us to help Dad die with the dignity he deserved in the place he loved and at the hardest of times; it was the greatest gift they could have given us. Ten years later, the Karuna doctor who cared for dad in his last months still comes for coffee and a chat just as a friend. Back then, Karuna became a central feature of our lives and because we want to support them in supporting others, it still is.”
This month, donate your $10 to Karuna at www.karuna.org.au or call 07 3632 8305 for address details.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.