The scare of COVID-19 has caused scarcities in drug stores, grocery stores and even the local convenience stores. Empty shelves for the common middle-class family brings out the most excruciating let down in the day, but it’s worse for families who have big medical expenses from abroad. At the Ronald McDonald house, domestic and international families rest in a shared temporary home while their children seek medical treatments such as cancer treatments, birth mutations and surgical care at the nearest hospital.
COVID-19 intensifies the fears of parents for the safety of their children.
At the Ronald McDonald House in Pasadena, safety measures were implemented after the COVID-19 outbreak to protect families and their children. The last visit I made on Wednesday, March 18th, I learned that families can only eat meals in their own designated bedrooms, visitors can only be seen outside of the property and families can only use the kitchen for dinner lasting no more than 45 minutes. As a visitor that day, I had to remain outside during my entire visit while communicating with a family who came directly from the Middle East to receive medical treatment for their 10-year old daughter.
Most people self-quarantine in the same country as their loved ones but being in a temporary home in a foreign country or state with a child seeking treatment while in self-quarantine makes their world darker. For some families, English is their second language or they don’t speak English at all. Some families are lucky to find a volunteer or worker who speaks their language; if not, they’re unable to communicate effectively during this hard time. In Pasadena, my family volunteers by acting as translators translating from English to Arabic, the mother admitted to us that she was oblivious during safety measure announcements. She confessed to my mother that she was embarrassed to admit that she didn’t know how the Ronald McDonald House was responding to COVID-19. My mother asked an employee to kindly explain and repeat all safety rules to translate for half an hour.
Worst of all, children don’t rest well in isolation from the hospital bed to their resting home at Ronald McDonald.
Children have the brightest and most imaginative spirits. Since medically attended children can’t be outside like everyone else during the virus outbreak they’re all just as bored. Domestic children attend classes through Zoom, but international kids are left with nothing to do. I kept my distance with a family. I suggested the idea to hop in my car to go to the Starbucks drive-thru. The little girl’s face lit up to be in my car for half an hour as we drove through the neighborhood. Although, I strongly recommend social distancing, going through a drive-thru for a few minutes shouldn’t hurt.
The most disappointing aspect for parents is their child’s hunger it’s not as simple as running to the closest market. Common foods children request have been milk and eggs, but those are the products generally missing on store shelves. Parents hesitate at the idea of going to neighboring cities to visit multiple grocery stores for one or two products because of their fear of catching COVID-19. Although Ronald McDonald House provides families with free lunches, families prefer for their children to eat healthily with home-prepared meals. It’s hard to say to a child that “the grocery store ran out,” and a child’s smile slowly turns to a frown or ask “why?” And “couldn’t you ask the store…?” To handle this problem, a family at the Ronald McDonald house builds a relationship with a volunteer or visitor.
My family has built a relationship with one family where the mother calls us when she can’t find certain foods from the market. It’s not hard to help during this crisis; it’s as simple as responding to a phone call to make a request for missing grocery foods. Afterward, the family and I look into a few local markets near us and deliver the requested foods to the Ronald McDonald House in Pasadena. It’s not too expensive to spend a part of the grocery list for another nor is it a big waste of time because it only takes a few minutes to drive to the Ronald McDonald House. In the end, it’s the smiles and goodness you feel in your heart after helping someone, not time or money.
Volunteers have been showing their acts of kindness
People have been donating food to families, translating languages, housekeeping tasks and administrative duties. Unfortunately, though, due to the spread of COVID-19, the Ronald McDonald House has halted volunteer programs. Now, outside visitors and guests have restrictions for on-site visits. Through word of mouth, people leave food and supplies at the property or with certain families.
Next time, while shopping at the grocery store, take the time to purchase with more thought. It’s out of desperation that American shoppers have emptied shelves and fought over items that will be restocked in mere weeks. Take only what you need, especially if you see a local hospital insight. We are all in this together.