TOGETHER WE ARE GOLDSTRONG
Rainbows and Smiles is a community-based, charitable foundation dedicated to providing emotional, social and financial support to children diagnosed with cancer or a life-threatening illness, and their families and caregivers.
Our organisation is inspired by the life of Jed Brady Suckling, son of Bonita Suckling, our founder. Jed bravely battled a brain cancer called Anaplastic Astrocytoma for more than three years. He was a little boy who loved giving gifts, and one of his greatest joys was to make his friends smile while they were in hospital being treated.
Rainbows and Smiles was inspired by Jed’s love language of giving gifts, and was established in 2009. Over the years the organisation has grown, but our inspiration is never forgotten, and we remain an approachable and welcoming charity.
Today, volunteers in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Pietermaritzburg and Durban continue the mission of Rainbows and Smiles across those cities and have provided support to hundreds of children and their families. We work with healthcare professionals at various treatment centers to assist where we can with complementary support and care for child cancer warriors and their families.
We are proud to be part of a larger community of organisations that support childhood cancer, and wherever possible, we collaborate and communicate with other like-minded organisations in South Africa and overseas to do what we can to ease the burden of childhood cancer on families.
"Let's make today the funniest day ever!"
Jed Brady Suckling - Forever #6
The reality about childhood cancer in South Africa.
Every year in South Africa, almost 1000children are diagnosed with cancer.
Our socio-economic challenges, and generally poor level of awareness of the warning signs of childhood cancer, mean that a large number of these children are diagnosed very late into their illness. As a result, they face a difficult battle against their illness, and sadly, for many of our children, treatment just comes too late.
Experts in South Africa estimate that around two-thirds of childhood cancers in our country remain un-reported , which means that in reality closer to 3000 children every year actually get cancer. Just not all will get a chance to fight it.
It’s not all bad news though – in recent years, survival rates for some cancers have increased dramatically, reaching over 80% when caught early enough and following the treatment protocol.
Government facilities in South Africa provide treatment to children with cancer and the doctors and medical professionals in private practice also lend their expertise to government hospitals, creating greater accessibility to treatment for all South Africans.
With this in mind, caregiver education is critical to empower people to recognise possible signs of childhood cancer – the more children we can bring into the treatment environment, the more we can change the statistics for the better.
WE ARE ON A MISSION...
We believe in providing hope, fun and laughter to help families through the childhood cancer journey.
We are passionate advocates for awareness initiatives and ongoing education on the early warning signs of childhood cancer.
We promote the Gold Ribbon (the symbol for childhood cancer awareness) in order to raise the profile of childhood cancer throughout South Africa.
We work with the medical teams and facilities responsible for treating children with cancer, to support and complement their work
We uphold and respect the rights of our child warriors in everything we do. We don’t discriminate based on race, culture, religion, financial status or any other factor.
HOW WE HELP THE HEROES
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, they will often begin treatment fairly quickly in a treatment centre at hospitals around the country. Children are referred to Rainbows and Smiles through word of mouth, social media, doctors or the hospital treatment centres.
After meeting our children and their families, we provide different types of support throughout the child’s treatment.
The sad reality of childhood cancer is that some children will not survive it, and we work with organisations in the community to promote professional counselling for children and their families and caregivers in the case that a child’s illness is terminal, or when one of our child heroes dies.
- Collect and deliver toys and gifts to affected children.
- Plan and run activities and craft days for them during their stays in hospital.
- Educate the public around early warning signs of childhood cancer, and promote awareness through our Gold Ribbon projects.
- Share the latest information on childhood cancer with our community, including research, treatment, and other developments.
Coordinate functions and fund-raising activities for our supporters to participate in.
- Where asked to by the family, we will advocate for specific needs of children and their families affected by childhood cancer, through our community and social media.
- Connect our newly-diagnosed affected families with members in the community to share experiences and provide peer support and friendship.
- We connect bereaved mothers to each other and offer friendship and peer support through social media, direct contact, message groups and special Remembrance Days.
- Providing vouchers for household expenses during a child’s treatment when parents are often forced to stop working.
- Assistance with medical expenses, both mainstream treatments and complementary therapies such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, and other rehabilitative treatments.
- Helping with transport to and from treatment centres.
- Upgrade facilities at the oncology treatment centres in our community.
- Host social events for our children and their families.
- When one of our beloved children passes away, we are able tosupport their families with funeral expenses.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Every day in South Africa, almost three families will hear that their child has been diagnosed with cancer. And this is still only a third of the total estimated cases that actually occur in our country!
That is why, in addition to directly supporting children, educating SouthAfricans about childhood cancer is our passion!
With your support, we can continue to grow, continue supporting the fighters and their families, and continue educating South Africans about childhood cancer.
We are not funded by government, and so we rely on the generosity of our supporters and the passion of our volunteers to enable us to do the work we do.
We raise funds in a number of ways, such as through sporting events that our supporters participate in, getting friends and family to sponsor their participation.
In addition, we host various other fundraising initiatives and events throughout the year, including golf days, gold ribbon events and other fun opportunities to get out and support this cause.
We are grateful to our corporate sponsors who allow us to ensure that we keep our operational costs low, and that funds raised go directly to affected families.
We’re always happy to welcome additional sponsors, especially for our events, and we’re grateful for monetary donations from corporates as well.