What we do

‘The Care for Kosovo Kids Foundation aims to aid children suffering from cancer in Kosovo. As Professor of Pediatric Oncology and scientific ambassador I cannot sufficiently stress the importance of this work. Despite its vicinity to Western Europe, chances of survival of this deadly disease are far too low in Kosovo. As a pediatric oncologist I know from experience how with relatively few resources many children can be saved. Join us in these efforts!’

Gertjan Kaspers, CfKK-Ambassador, Professor of Pediatric Oncology VUmc/Amsterdam UMC, Director Academy & Outreach, Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology Utrecht, Member of the Central Board of the Foundation for Pediatric Oncology in the Netherlands, Chair World Child Cancer Foundation NL

Care for Kosovo Kids Foundation

Dutch entrepreneur Anke Gerrits and the Kosovar pediatrician Dr. Sevim Cinci founded the Dutch-Kosovar Care for Kosovo Kids foundation in 2013. They took this initiative because the staff of the pediatric oncology department of the University Clinical Center in Pristina lacked the resources to treat children suffering from cancer.

Most parents are unable to afford expensive treatment in private hospitals or in hospitals abroad, and as a result the majority of children diagnosed with cancer have poor prospects of survival.

The CfKK foundation’s aim is to ensure that every Kosovar child with cancer receives adequate treatment in their own country.

The foundation achieves its aims by providing the medical staff of the department for Pediatric Oncology of the University Clinical Center of Kosovo in Pristina (UCCK) with chemotherapy, other essential medicines and tube feeding for the children. Moreover, CfKK provides other essential equipment that is required for a full treatment, including pain killers, needles, syringes, infusion sets, catheters and test tubes.

Close collaboration with specialists
All activities carried out by the foundation take place in close collaboration with experts of the Pediatric Oncology department and/or other departments of the UCCK in Pristina, with Kosovar board members, and with pediatric oncologists of the Princess Máxima Center in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

The Kosovar medical team: top left to right: Dr. Arbana Zejnullahu, Dr. Bardhyl Abrashi, Dr. Violeta Uka, Dr. Rufadie Maçastena, Minire Huniler, Edita Krajkova, Fatime Dërguti, Dr. Enver Hasi. Middle left to right: Vlora Hyseni, Azemine Haliti, Malsore Vitija. Bottom left to right: Edona Toplica, Mirishah Abazi, Trimona Behxheti

Save the lives of Kosovar children!

Collaboration with the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology

The intensive collaboration between the department for pediatric oncology of the University Clinical Center in Pristina and the Máxima Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands, is essential for the best oncological diagnostics and treatment. The Máxima Center, Europe’s largest pediatric-oncological hospital, seeks to cure every child suffering from cancer while preserving the best quality-of-life. The Máxima Center is unable to contribute money, medicines or equipment, but does actively shared its body of knowledge and experience with the physicians who work at the Pediatric Oncology department of the UCCK in Pristina. See also: www.prinsesmaximacentrum.nl www.prinsesmaximacentrum.nl

Outreach Program

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University Clinical Center of Kosovo, the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology in the Netherlands and World Child Cancer Netherlands was an important step for treating children with cancer in Kosovo. The contract stipulates that UCCK-physicians, nurses, technical staff, researchers and other Kosovar professionals became members of the Máxima Center’s Outreach Program. In this program, they are trained and educated in the most recent scientific developments and protocols in pediatric oncology.

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All expenses are completely covered by the World Child Cancer Foundation Netherlands in collaboration with the Máxima Center. Training and education take place through an exchange program of medical professionals between the Máxima Center in the Netherlands and the UCCK in Pristina. Moreover, both hospitals also collaborate in areas of research.

Leukemia

Whenever a child is diagnosed with leukemia, physicians of the pediatric oncology department in Pristina send a bone marrow sample to the Máxima Center in Utrecht. The department in Kosovo at this moment is unable to determine the molecular biology of these samples, making the classification of the leukemia to be more difficult.

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To establish the correct diagnosis and treatment of different types of leukemia, these bone marrow samples are analyzed in Utrecht, and classified and discussed by pediatric oncologists in both hospitals. The correct treatment can then be provided.

Outreach team

The Outreach team of the Máxima Center consists of three pediatric oncologists. One is specialized in solid tumors, the other in brain tumors, and the third is specialized in hematological malignancies. The latter consist of malignant afflictions of the blood and blood-forming tissues such as acute and chronic leukemia.

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The team further consists of a nurse practitioner specialized in hemato-oncology and an additional two nurses. Of these two nurses, one has a specialization in solid tumors, the other in bone marrow transplantation, hematology and education. Two child care workers are also part of the Outreach team. They know best how to support children battling cancer who have to undergo treatment and how to make sure these children’s fears and concerns are eased. They share their knowledge with the Kosovar child psychologist and oncology nurses. Pediatric oncologist and chair of the Outreach team Martine van Grotel also sits on the board of CfKK.

We welcome trainees

We especially welcome the contribute of young professionals – with Albanian roots – who want to contribute to CfKK. Likewise, we welcome international students who would like to contribute scientifically to the treatment and cure of children suffering from cancer.

Goals

Short term

CfKK continues to do what it has done so far: ensure that children with cancer receive the best treatment possible. From diagnosis, to treatment, to medication, and including appropriate aftercare. 

Medium-long term

CfKK endeavors to ensure that all children suffering from cancer in Kosovo can be treated at the department for pediatric oncology of the UCCK. Here they undergo the same medical treatment as they would elsewhere in Europe. Only the most complicated cases – such as those involving a bone marrow transplantation – will have to be treated abroad.

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For many years now, Kosovar parents can have the confidence that their children are given the best possible treatment at the Pediatric Oncology department of the UCCK in Pristina. The medical aspects of the treatment are provided for through close collaboration between the UCCK and the Princess Máxima Center – the largest knowledge center for pediatric oncology in Europe. Furthermore, treatment, medication and sustenance are fully covered. There is no need to visit a hospital abroad. Parents can confidently take their child to the department of Pediatric Oncology of the UCCK in Pristina.

Long term

The final goal that CfKK has set itself will be attained when the work the foundation conducts can be organised independently by Kosovar experts with their government.

Results

All medication fully paid for

The CfKK foundation purchases all required medication directly at the producer. This takes place in close consultation with the department’s physicians. Delivery and distribution within the hospital are carefully checked and registered. 

Where necessary, preliminary dental care

Children being treated with chemotherapy often cannot undergo dental care. Hence it is important to check their teeth before undergoing chemotherapy and ensuring that any problems are provided for with appropriate dental care. The hospital dentist conducts these checks and treats the children on a voluntary basis. CfKK plays an important role in facilitating contact and communication between the dentist and the Pediatric Oncology department.

Psychological support before, during and after treatment

Thanks to the support from CfKK the department has employed a psychologist. She is directly concerned with the children and apart from mental support she also offers more practical support to the children, their parents, and CfKK. To inform and prepare children (and parents) about what is going to happen, they are provided with a children’s book that deals with this topic.

All children are provided with a welcome package with a toy and items for personal hygiene such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo

Milestones

2023

  • The Memorandum of Understanding between UCCK and Princess Máxima Center was renewed on April 14, 2023. Kosovo Minister of Health Arben Vitia and Professor Gertjan Kaspers formally signed the new agreement during a small ceremony at the ministry.
  • 10 Years Care for Kosovo Kids
    April 2023 was also a milestone for Care for Kosovo Kids itself: the 10-year anniversary. This achievement was remembered on April 14, 2023 at a festive reception in the Swiss Diamond Hotel in Prishtina.
    The event was a great get-together of past and present participants in the Care for Kosovo Kids journey, both volunteers and donors. This was nicely illustrated in sometimes emotional speeches by the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Kosovo, Dr. Bardhil, who for many years was the main contact for the foundation at the Hemato-Oncology ward, Professor Gertjan Kaspers on behalf of the Princess Máxima Center, and of course Anke Gerrits, founder and chair of Care for Kosovo Kids.
  • Certificate of appreciation from the Kosovo Chamber of doctors
    On April 13, 2023, a ceremony was held that acknowledged great contributions made to the improvement of health services in Kosovo.
    Chamber of Doctors, Dr. Pleurat Sejdiu, personally handed over plaquettes to the Care for Kosovo Kids foundation and to doctors from Austria and the Netherlands, expressing the appreciation for the work done over many years in Kosovo.

2022

  • Incredibly successful Charity Dinner
    After two years without a CfKK Charity dinner, due to the pandemic, in May 2022 many friends of Care Kosovo Kids gathered in the completely renovated Postillion Hotel Amersfoort-Veluwemeer for an evening of fun, good food, and all kinds of fundraising events.
    We were happy to welcome Mr. Dren Doli, Ambassador of Kosovo in the Netherlands, and Mrs. Carin Lobbezoo, Ambassador of the Netherlands in Kosovo as guests of honor.

    At the end of the evening the total amount of money raised astonished all people present.
    Many, many thanks to all who contributed to this event: hotel staff, volunteers taking care of all guests, doctors and nurses from the Princess Máxima Center who supported the fundraising activities, and of course the many, very generous guests that (again !) showed their loving care for, and solidarity with the children with cancer in Kosovo.

2021

  • Renovation of Pathology laboratory
    The Pathology lab at the University Clinical Center of Kosovo, charged with preparing and examining biological materials from tissue biopsies from patients (e.g. cancer patients) from all over Kosovo, was in urgent need of renovation. The aim of providing a healthier environment for its staff, improved safekeeping of the materials, and higher quality of analysis by the pathologists was achieved through building a completely new laboratory and furnishing it with state-of-the-art equipment.
    This huge project was realized in a collaboration between the UCCK, the Ministry of Health and the Care for Kosovo Kids foundation. Stichting Salem Ermelo co-funded the project.
  • Molecular diagnostics for proven UCCK leukemia patients
    The hemato-oncology team in UCCK will send diagnostic and ‘day 33’ samples from proven Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) patients to the Princess Máxima Center for performing molecular diagnostics. Annually, this will involve around 25 patients. Being able to stratify ALL patients adequately (treatment strategy: low risk, medium risk, high risk, according to international guidelines), is a strong case for treating these children in UCCK (and not send them abroad).
  • Psychosocial support for cancer patients and their families
    For those affected by cancer and the families that stand by their sides throughout the whole process, it is very important to receive proper psychological support and information, and to be able to share experiences with others.
    There is currently only 1 psychologist available offering support for the patients of all departments of the Pediatric Clinic and their families. This limits the availability for patients affected by cancer. The goal is to obtain more support for patients and their families.

2020

  • Donation from the Swiss Embassy in Kosovo: the upcoming year, the embassy funds half of the expenses of reagents and other consumables that are required for the flow-cytometer to fully function. Additional sources of support for the other half are still being pursued.
  • Continuation of supplying essential medication and tube feeding.
  • Continuation of providing for welcome and hygiene packages for new patients.
  • Continuation of the Outreach Program of the Academy of the Máxima Center.

2019

  • Continuation of supplying essential medication.

  • Continuation of providing for welcome and hygiene packages for new patients on the Pediatric Oncology department.

  • Continuation of the Outreach Program of the Academy of the Máxima Center.

  • Start of the project for tube feeding. Proper nutrition is essential to every patient’s recovery, especially so during cancer treatment. In consultation with Dutch nutritionists, CfKK supplies tube feeding to all children in the pediatric hospital that need it and actively stimulates its use.

  • Every medical treatment starts with proper diagnostics. Whenever a patient is diagnosed with leukemia a sample of their bone marrow is transported from the pediatric oncology department in Pristina to the Máxima Center in the Netherlands for analysis and pediatric oncologists of both hospitals arrange a meeting.

  • Supporting effective use of the flow-cytometer.

  • A separate room is taken into use for storing CfKK medicines stock in the UCCK.

  • The second CfKK charity dinner in the Netherlands raises € 70,000.
    When finishing her internship, Finnish intern Terese Backlund set up the online platform (https://mesenaatti.me/1247/_/) that she uses to raise money. Together with Edona Toplica – CfKK’s manager in Kosovo – she acquired toys and books with this money and distributes these among the children on the pediatric oncology department.

  • CfKK furnishes the pediatric hospital’s kitchen with a new refrigerator, a freezer, a drier, a dishwasher, thermos and a blender. The chefs and nurses do not dispose of crucial kitchen equipment that is much-needed in order to prepare the daily meals for a hundred patients. By CfKK’s mediation, the Kosovar financial institution Monego and the Danish KFOR donated a stove, a meat grinder, trolleys, uniforms, plates, cutlery and pacifiers.

2018

  • Continuation of supplying essential medication.

  • Outreach program between the Máxima Center and the pediatric oncology department in Pristina set up. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University Clinical Center of Kosovo, the Princess Máxima Center for Pedriatic Oncology and World Child Cancer Netherlands is signed. The most important elements are training, education and advise for UCCK-physicians, nurses, technical staff, researchers and other Kosovar professionals about pediatric oncology’s current state of the field. The training and education sessions take place during an exchange program of medical professionals between the Máxima Center and the UCCK in Pristina. A scientific exchange between both hospitals is initiated.

  • The second CfKK charity dinner in the Netherlands raises € 70,000.

  • The first initiative of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is completed.

  • A new washing machine, dryer and weighing scale for children are acquired.

  • Mobile bed is replaced.

  • Papers are presented in Kosovo by Dutch and Austrian specialists in oncology.

  • Judoka Majlinda Kelmendi becomes the new CfKK-ambassador in Kosovo. She is the first Kosovar to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games of 2016. In order to raise money, she offers her shirt number for auctioning.

  • Start of the voluntary dental care project at the Pediatric Oncology department. Children being treated with chemotherapy often cannot undergo dental care. Hence it isimportant to check their teeth before undergoing chemotherapy and ensuring that any problems are provided for with appropriate dental care. The hospital dentist conducts these checks and treats the children on a voluntary basis. CfKK plays an important role in facilitating contact and communication between the dentist and the Pediatric Oncology department.

  • Donation received from Dua Lipa. She is of Kosovar descent and is one of the world’s most successful singers.

  • Welcome and hygiene packets are prepared and handed out for every new patient that is admitted to the Pediatric Oncology department. All children are provided with a welcome package with a toy and items for personal hygiene such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo. These packages help in making the children feel welcome and facilitate communication with parents and children.

  • Extra help: During a period where there were even deeper than usual shortages of medicines and consumables in all departments of the pediatric hospital in Pristina, CfKK in consultation with the Ministry of Health of Kosovo, provides all medication and other essential items for the entire Pediatric hospital and Neonatology clinic.

2017

  • Continuation of supplying essential medication.
  • Start of the initiative of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
  • CfKK’s first charity diner in the Netherlands raises over € 38,000.
  • Psychologist Fatime Fejzullahu commences her work providing mental support for children and their parents on the Pediatric Oncology department.
  • Papers are presented in Kosovo by Dutch and Austrian specialists in oncology.

2016

  • Continuation of supplying essential medication.
  • Memorandum of Understanding is signed between the Ministry of Health of Kosovo and CfKK.
  • With the signing of this memorandum a close collaboration between CfKK and the Department of Health in Pristina is initiated. Apart from direct aid such as medication, CfKK contributes in other ways to improving healthcare for children in Kosovo.
  • Symposium organised with international pediatric oncologists from the Netherlands and Austria.
  • ‘Chemo Kasper’, a children’s book containing information on cancer, is translated into Albanian as ‘Kemo-Krenari’. The book helps in informing and preparing the children for chemotherapy.

2015

  • Continuation of supplying essential medication.

  • The protocols for supplying medicine are improved with a track and trace system. An entire floor of the pediatric hospital is refurbished with new furniture sponsored by Keller Germany, architectural firm NIVOO3, the American Embassy and local construction firm Bavaria.

2014

  • Continuation of supplying essential medication.
  • Refurbishment of the central laundry service of the UCCK. CfKK supplies new industrial laundry machines, dryers and an ironing machine.
  • Launch of the cookbook ‘Streetfood Kosovo’. All proceeds of the sale of this book go to CfKK.
  • In order to reduce young patient’s distress, the white walls in the pediatric hospital are decorated with cartoon figures.

2013

  • Foundation and registration of Care for Kosovo Kids in the Netherlands and Kosovo as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with the status of Officially Recognised Charity for the Common Good (ANBI) Memorandum of understanding is signed between the Ministry of Health of Kosovo, the University Clinical Center of Kosovo (UCCK), the Pediatric Clinic of the UCCK and CfKK foundation.

  • Essential medication is supplied on the basis of transparent protocols and a stock management system.