There is a safe harbor for the children in research studies on the campus of NIH. The Children's Inn has been a huge blessing to thousands of families. Each morning we left the Inn in a little red wagon, perfect for children to use when traveling back and forth to the research center. We could have used a shuttle bus but the entrance of the research center was such a short walk from the Inn that we decided to walk each day. If we had even ten minutes between doctor visits we strolled outdoors with the wagon where every flower bed was neatly cared for and had something blooming in it.
At the end of a long day we headed back to the Inn and were greeted by volunteers who had left a special gift for all the children in their little mailboxes. The staff also kept track of our coming and going so they always knew where to find us if a doctor called. There was a little refreshment station in the lobby stocked with homemade baked goods and coffee in the morning, and iced tea and lemonade in the evening upon our return.
While parents looked a little frazzled by the end of the day, the children were ready to play with each other. Qavah made friends easily and played in the playroom until dinner. Church and civic groups volunteered to bring in dinner on two of the nights we were there. All the families came to a main dining room and we were treated to a wonderful hot meal. There were people staying at the Inn with seriously ill children and the love that surrounded them was a healing force. I met an Amish family with two little boys undergoing stem cell transplants. They had been there for six months. They told me that all during that time their family and neighbors had been harvesting and planting their farmland for them.
I felt every range of emotion as we shared our lives at the Children's Inn. Parents needed to talk about their journey while the children needed to forget about being sick. Of interest to me was the number of families that told me they come every year and the children can hardly wait to get there. One mother told me that the children look at the research as something they have to get through to get back to the Children's Inn for the fun. Our first day at home Qavah said, "I miss our castle," (meaning the Children's Inn). It was like a castle as you can see in the following pictures. More than that, it was a fortress and a place of refuge; a good physical reminder that God is our fortress and refuge and a very present help in time of trouble.
Qavah looking out of the 5th floor research clinic overlooking The Children's Inn
A play yard gave the children a chance to get outside
Our wonderful Red Wagon