Comforting smile at the airport

Marly Ruysenaars
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And then suddenly your world is turned upside-down. The doctor tells you that you need to head abroad, immediately, as it is the only way you will be able to save your child’s life. You’ve never been abroad, you’ve never even flown before, you have no idea what to expect, how to deal with this whirlwind of a situation. And then suddenly you see a familiar face. RMHC volunteer Marly is waiting for you and your family at the airport entrance with a comforting smile and a reassuring voice. It’s going to be ok, you are not alone.

RMHC volunteer Marly Ruysenaar has been offering a helping hand to families since the start-up of the foundation ten years ago. She has had her own experience with receiving support at the hospital many years back, when her son needed medical care. But the spark to become a volunteer was truly lit when she was inspired by her daughter-in-law, Melanie, when Melanie spoke of her experiences as a 16-year-old with cancer during a congress organized by Dr. Scheper in 2007 for local and international oncologists and hematologists. “I knew I wanted to do something and had heard of the RMHC. When I started 10 years ago, I started volunteering once a week during the morning shift”, Marly explains.

Nowadays Marly volunteers both at the Ronald Mc Donald House Charities facility at Curaçao Medical Center, as well as at the Curaçao International Airport. Through airport operator Antillean Flight Services, she is able to support families that need to travel abroad with their child for medical care, but also welcomes and support families returning to Curaçao. Marly makes the families feel at ease, as she takes care of the travel formalities and helps them through the airport procedures.

“Often times I have experienced the families beforehand at the RMHC facility at the hospital. When at the airport the parents and children feel at ease as they know my face and I know their situation. It’s as if they have a thrusted person that reassures them and serves as a middle man between them and the entities they have to encounter at the airport”, Marly explains.

That she gives her utmost in each situation is evident. “This one time I had to intervein for a mother traveling with her child that needed to be treated abroad due to leukemia. There was an issue with the mother’s travel documents, which resulted in us having to make additional arrangements and me having to place some calls. Meanwhile time was ticking and the plane was about to leave. As soon as we received approval to travel, I took my heals off and ran barefoot with the child in the wheelchair and the mother by my side towards the gate, in order to make the flight just in time.”

7 Months later Marly welcomed the mom and the now 8-year-old child as they returned to Curaçao. As the family was reunited with their loved ones at the airport, Marly felt so much joy. “It’s impossible not to let out a tear during such touching moments. Volunteering at RMHC truly is a beautiful experience”.

Each volunteer at Ronald Mc Donald House Charities Curaçao Foundation, in their own special way, offers support to families of children staying at the hospital for medical care. Their helping hands, listening ears and pro-active support are a source of comfort and ease for the families going through a difficult period of time while their child is receiving medical care at or through Curaçao Medical Center. Our volunteers freely offer their time and energy for which the RMHC is eternally grateful. More volunteers are needed to welcome and care for the families. Become a volunteer. Click here to register. Thank you!

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