Role of a host family
Care provided by a host family consists of three key phases: First of all the family welcomes the child, helps him/her to adapt and prepares him/her for the surgical procedure accompanying him/her to pre-operative consultations. During his/her hospitalisation, the family is there with the child on a daily basis. This is followed by a convalescence period with a few check-up visits and preparation for the return home.
Host families are permanently in touch with the children’s families in the country of origin and the health centre in charge of the child.
The duration of the child’s stay varies depending on each case, from 3 days to two months, or even more in the event of complications.
How to become a host family
You are a family, with or without children, or a single person.
You have time, availability and a lot of love to give…
Two entities are responsible for welcoming the children
- The Association Rencontres Africaines – make an online application
- The Monegasque Red Cross – download the brochure (available soon)
How to describe a host family
They are young… or not so young, they have children… or no children, they live in a house… or an apartment… it doesn’t really matter. But they are available, affectionate and loving. In practical terms, they meet the child at the airport and until the latter’s departure look after him/her as if he/she were their own: the child is welcomed into their home, is part of their life, is kept amused, taken to consultations, to the hospital, paid visits during hospitalisation, given support when suffering, consoled when feeling down, and encouraged when learning how to live in a different way. In brief, they provide the affection and love the child is deprived of due to the distance from his/her own family. When the child leaves, recovered, the host family are sad yet happy. They have been through an unforgettable experience.
A little girl’s letter to her host family
Stéphanie Boye, host family for “Petit Ibou”
For a very long time my husband and I had wanted to do something “more” enriching, an exchange, give love and support to those who needed it so much.
I found the association Rencontres Africaines on the internet and attended their monthly meeting.
“And there you are 9 months later, on 1st July 2014 you finally arrived, Petit Ibou, as your mum calls you, tired but we are all there to help you get through this new phase of your life.
Little man, coming from another continent, you don’t know us. We don’t know you either.
The 1st day not a word, not a tear, in your eyes sadness mixes with hope, courage and strength.
I won’t deny it – as a mum it was difficult.
But the next day, the beginnings of a smile…
We get to know each other day after day, but it’s already time for you to leave for the hospital for a few days.
As a mum, a dad, a grandma we give you all our support at this important time in your life.
All the team from the cardiology centre are there too and welcome you with open arms, like a star.
The best surgeons are there for you.
The next day is THE day.
The hours go by and you are at last freed from this respiratory distress that has never left you since you were born. Finally you will be able to play, run, have fun, simply be a child.
After a few days of observation and pampering at the cardiology centre we go home.
Your mum does not believe me, petit Ibou, when I tell her that you are running, playing…
And yet it is real, you are better and we are all proud of you little chap.
After 3 weeks of unforgettable moments and joy, your departure draws near. We are all preparing ourselves for this day which undoubtedly will be difficult.
But what a joy to know that you are going to see your mum, dad and sisters again.
What a joy to know that we took part in what you are today.”
Once again I would like to thank my children, my husband, my mum, Rencontres Africaines, the Cardiology Centre and the associations which are part of this wonderful adventure.
Christiane, host family for Tawfiq, 1, from Burkina Faso, member of Rencontres Africaines.
“I was somewhat emotional as I waited for Tawfiq to arrive at the airport. A very beautiful baby disembarked in the arms of a smiling escort, but he didn’t smile. I had to wait 2 days to see the beginnings of a smile. Every day, I was surprised to see this child’s capacity to adapt and to understand, his concentration while playing and also his high-pitched and persistent cry to make me understand what he wanted. Today I can say that his persistence and determination most probably helped him to live.
At the hospital, after his operation, he also managed to impose his wishes on the nurses.
When I went to fetch him to bring him home, he was gorgeous, all smiles and holding his arms wide open. It has been a wonderful experience and wonderful adventure for him and for me. The house will be empty without him.”
Philibert, Don Noël’s dad, 10 months old when he had his first operation
“At the end of 2008, when we found out that our son was suffering from a serious heart disease, it was impossible for us to send him abroad. Finally this was made possible thanks to Monaco Collectif Humanitaire.
The operation was a success. Without this help, he would undoubtedly have died. In March 2011 our child had to be given treatment a second time. He left for Monaco again where he underwent a new surgical procedure. We are extremely happy because he came back in perfect health, he plays normally and has even been going to school since the beginning of the new school year. My family would like to thank all the people involved and the hospital staff most sincerely because they have saved our child. I can but hope that they continue to save other lives because Burundi, and many other African countries, do not have the means for treating certain diseases.”
Marie Rose, Don Noël’s mum
“It was difficult to see our child leave for Monaco without accompanying him but we kept up hope because we knew that he was in good hands. The host family consoled us and we monitored the situation every day. I cannot begin to explain the pain of parents seeing their child suffer without being able to help him. I can’t find the words to express what I feel, to express my thanks once again to all the people who were involved. Many other African countries do not have the resources for treating certain diseases.”