“a smile for every child”
firstname.lastname@example.org (India) email@example.com (Philippines)
Ramesh Genomal is the Founder, Director and President of Chummy Chum Foundation Inc. http://www.chummychum.org based in Manila, Philippines and Bangalore, India.
Ramesh, together with members of his immediate family operates the Chummy Chum Foundation.
THE STORY OF CHUMMY CHUM
by Ramesh Genomal
Sometime in August 2007, my wife Cherina, with a few of her friends visited a children’s hospital to donate some funds for the sick patients. They were accompanied to the children’s ward and were saddened to see so many terminally ill children lying quietly on their beds with their mothers some of them in tears, next to their little babies.
My wife and her friends were deeply saddened, and dismayed, as they were informed by the nurses that nothing could be done for the terminally ill children, not even their donations because all efforts had already been taken to save them and now they are just waiting for their time to unite with the lord.
When I came home from the office that night my wife Cherina with tears in her eyes related to me her experience at the hospital, and asked me what I thought we could do. I did not have an answer, but her question lingered in my mind for many weeks thinking of how we could help these children.
One evening about a week later, I had taken my family for dinner and while walking back to our parked car, a little girl in shabby clothes and about 4 or 5 years of age approached me in the dark asking for some food or money.
With a smile, and a pat on her head, I quickly handed her a P50.00 ($1.00) bill and told her to spend it wisely. After she received the money, she grabbed my hand and placed it on her forehead. This is a tradition in Philippine custom to show gratitude and respect.
I was so deeply touched. My family and I walked to my parked car about 20 meters away and we all boarded. And just before we drove off, we noticed that the little girl had followed us and was peeking into the car window waving at me and repeatedly saying Salamat po, salamat po, bye-bye (thank you sir, thank you sir bye-bye)
This incident touched a corner of my heart and stayed there for a long, long time.
About a month later, on the death anniversary of my Dad, my Mom asked my wife Cherina and I to deliver some canned goods and children’s clothes to the Mother Theresa Orphanage. While we were unloading the items from the van, The reverend mother in charge thanked us and said the children are very, very happy about the items we brought.
We looked at the children standing around us, but did not notice anyone of them looking happy. We could not understand why children would be happy to receive milk powder, baby clothes and groceries.
A year before, I had created a cartoon character - a baby dragon called "Chummy Chum", for use in a new children's pajama line for my family's garment business but was unsuccessful after so many attempts to make it work. It just wasn't happening.
Then I ordered a 6 foot tall Mascot of Chummy Chum and licensed it out to a diner in Guam, but that idea did not work either. So I took the mascot and stashed it on my attic together with all the other Chummy Chum paraphernalia.
To continue my story, while we were in the car on the way back home, Cherina and I spoke about our experience at the orphanage and we asked ourselves what made us happy when we were children and we shared the same answer. “Toys, Clowns, gifts, Candies, Popcorn, Dancing Singing and Games”.
The vision of that little girl smiling at me on the sidewalk and many other similar incidents of indigent deprived children I had confronted started to appear before me and this is the point when my mind lit up and the whole idea of the Chummy Chum foundation came to me and I realized that the reason I was unsuccessful in using Chummy Chum in my business is because God had a better plan for him.
Still in the car I excitedly told Cherina, that I finally had an answer to her question about what to do about the terminally ill children at the hospitals, and the orphaned children, and the sick and the poor and indigent little children that we had often spoken about. I felt so elated and excited during the drive home while explaining to Cherina about my vision and it was at that point that I made a promise to God that Chummy Chum is no longer mine and he will now belong to the indigent children of this world. And he will come to them everyday, wherever they are and bring them joy and do things that will make them happy and make them smile. This is also when I conceived the slogan “SMILE FOR ME LITTLE ONE.
When I reached home I excitedly pulled down the Mascot from storage in the attic and got into my computer laying out the entire Chummy Chum Foundation plan. The rest of the story was full of smiles, enlightenment and miracles.
The Chummy Chum foundation is a very unfamiliar and unique kind of charity. We call it “CHARITY OF LOVE” : Unconditional Love that comes from your heart and charity that is profound and discreet.
It’s not the kind of institutional charity that donates funds, used clothes or goods to Charity organizations. This is a different kind of charity. Charity which brings love and affection to those who need it the most; the sick and terminally ill children who are confined in the hospital room waiting for their time to come, the children who have been abused, the orphans who have been abandoned or lost their parents and have no one to give them the love and care we give to our own child“.
These are God’s special ones, so I humbly and sincerely encourage everyone in whatever way they can to make it their responsibility to share their love and blessings with these indigent little children because they have no voice… , because they have no choice.. , because they do not have anyone but us.
It does not take so much, just a little love, kindness, companionship, storytelling, music, dance, coloring books, toys, popcorn, candies, and plain fun. These are the simple little things that bring a joyous smile on the little children’s faces. We know this because we were little children too and we know what made us happy.
“Chummy Chum will live forever and continue to do his job for generations to come.” This is the promise and commitment of my wife and our three sons (who are all personally involved in the foundation).
The Chummy Chum Foundation is self-funded by the family. We do not accept cash donations from anyone. Donations can however be accepted provided it is in the form of children’s books, toys, candy, and of course in the form of personal service volunteers who can give their time for storytelling, group games or assisting in the distribution of goodies.
Note: Recently the foundation has allowed cash transfer donations from overseas through its bank account which will immediately be converted to children’s books, toys and goodies and a receipt of the expenditure will be forwarded to the donor within a two week period.
Over the years, since its founding, the Chummy Chum foundation has provided public hospital infant wards that are short of lifesaving equipment such as infant incubators as part of its ISP (Infant Survival program). This program also conducts cost free technical maintenance and service of hospital equipment in public hospitals. In 2022, ISP expanded its services by creating the Incubator Loan Program, followed by the Ventilator Loan Program in 2023. Certainly, a unique program that aims to saving more patients within the National Capital Region and nearby provinces, and hopefully reaching out to patients nationwide in the not so distant future.
The Chummy Chum foundation is engaged in various other programs for indigent children and these are better explained in the Chummy Chum website https://www.chummychum.org/
Every child Chummy Chum meets in every event gets a Chummy Chum coloring book with crayons, popcorn, candies and the little babies get dolls, toys and rattles.
Over a million of these coloring books have been distributed since inception of the Chummy Chum foundation in December 2007.
We all have at one time or another experienced the joyful uplifting feeling we get whenever we play with a little child and receive that lovely, delightful smile and sparkle in their eyes. This is why the Chummy Chum theme is “Smile For Me Little One”.
Everyone involved in the organization, as well as the volunteers are so supercharged. They are tirelessly and happily working to bring in the happy smiles from the impoverished and indigent children and they have claimed that it is so emotionally rewarding and mentally refreshing. The same experience and feeling of contentment has been shared by both the Philippine foundation’s administrator Ms. Bebeth Chuidian as well as the Bangalore based foundation’s head of operations Ms. Urvashi Blonshe.
Chummy Chum makes his field visits almost every other day of the month and the visits are concentrated mostly with the terminally o r impoverished little children at hospitals all over the country.
“What is sad is that time is so short and precious for these children. Chummy Chum may only get one opportunity to visit and play with them. The next time Chummy visits the same hospital, they are most likely in the arms of the lord."
Chummy concentrates most of its efforts on children who are terminally ill.
Chummy Chum is a cute, funny looking character and resembles a baby dinosaur.
His purple color represents the highest level of spiritual awareness. His apple-green toddler shorts represent a child’s innocence and un-corrupted thoughts. His red and white striped t-shirt is a cheerful manifestation of his happy character and loving purpose.
Unlike other cartoon characters created for fun, Chummy Chum has directed his efforts towards God’s special little ones who are unwell or have been inflicted with terminal and rare ailments with little or no chance of survival.
In their last moments, Chummy Chum will be there with them to bring them joy, to make them smile, and to touch their hearts. Humbly giving love, freely, and unselfishly to those who need to be cuddled, pampered, listened to and noticed regardless of race or creed.
The Chummy mobile van is a comical looking mobile van making its way through the streets of the city.
Its first destination is the children's ward of The Philippine Cancer Society. The van comes to a stop, the rear door rolls up, a ramp is lowered and out comes this adorable purple baby dinosaur which is over 6 feet tall.
His name is Chummy Chum, and behind him, a colorful popcorn cart rolls out followed by a cotton candy making machine.
Sound speakers from the sides of the cart are blaring out the jovial “Jump with Chummy Chum song”. The parade marches into the cancer ward of the center where children stricken with terminal cancer are housed.
These children left with only a few precious moments in life, are quietly and sadly lying in their beds until Chummy Chum comes dancing in creating a whole big scene of fun and excitement, and not before long the entire cancer ward turns into a mini circus with chummy chum dancing away and singing with the little kids.
Coloring books, and toys are distributed to the children by the many volunteers, and the kids with their gleaming eyes are now crowding around the popcorn and cotton candy machine with their salivating mouths.
A wonderful feeling of joy surrounds the once gloomy atmosphere of the ward. Chummy Chum came into existence in September 2007.
He adopted the Genomal family as his surrogate family. Starting from the Philippines and India, Chummy Chum hopes to eventually spread his joy to children in other parts of the world.
He makes his appearance almost every other day of the week at hospitals, orphanages and other children centers month after month, year after year.