Autumn 2017 Newsletter

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In our Autumn newsletter you can  catch up on the children’s progress and read our new Values, Vision and Mission statement.

Download/view our Autumn 2017 Newsletter

It was a chance discovery on google that brought volunteer Susan Whitehead to Children First.

Susan had recently retired and she was looking for something to fill her days. Her brother and niece live in Kilmore so she regularly made the journey to visit them from Mickleham, where she lives with her husband.   Kilmore is just a half hour from home so she thought volunteering in the area would be perfect.

So while searching for some ideas, Children First popped up on google and she decided to apply.  That was last November and Susan has been one of our regular Wednesday volunteers ever since.  This still leaves time for her to spend time with her grandsons who live near her.

“I just love it.” Susan says. “I’m a hands-on person and I love helping people – it must be the country girl in me!

“When I first started there were four PNG children at the Retreat.  I’d done Kokoda, so I showed them my book and they enjoyed looking and showing me where they lived.”

These shared experiences with the children happen every day and it’s what makes volunteering at the Retreat so rewarding – the children as well as our volunteers.

“I just love being part of their day,” said Susan.

Volunteers are an invaluable part of our holistic care team at the Miracle sMiles Retreat:  they make a genuine contribution to the well-being of the children and the day to day running of the Retreat.  Each volunteer brings a different skill or interest to the role which adds to the diversity at the Retreat.

Volunteers are rostered at times that fit their family or work life: some commit to a day or half day a week, others are on the ‘overnight sleep’ roster to support the overnight staff,  and there are those who do part or whole weekends, again supporting our staff.

If you’d like to know more about volunteering call Anne, our volunteer coordinator on 9329 4822 or email


Media reported how collaboration between Monash Children’s Hospital, Children First Foundation and AACHOL Trust in Bangladesh has changed Choity’s life

Melbourne Channel 10, 9, 7 and ABC TV news reports are on Children First Facebook page

International coverage at BBC Asia

Herald Sun Transcript
A Bangladeshi girl born with three legs and conditions never seen before is set to return home after treatment that still amazes her Melbourne surgeons and carers.

After sailing through her final check-up yesterday, the recovery of three-year-old Choity continues to stun Associate Professor Chris Kimber, who reqbuilt her body at Monash Children’s Hospital last November.

Born with a third leg, two sets of internal organs and missing other vital sections of her body, Choity was brought to Australia by Children First Foundation after an international effort for a unique operation.  “It’s remarkable, just remarkable.  I cannot believe how well she was recovered,” Assoc Prof Kimber said. “She will need some work later in life as a teenager. But this just shows how well we planned and prepared because this has turned out better than we ever could have dreamt.”

Choity is now able to run around and play like every other child, however her newfound mobility is just the tip of the iceberg.  Born without the body’s normal openings, Choity had only skin like a Barbie doll on the outside, and no was of going to the toilet or avoiding fatal infections when she was found in a Dhaka slum by a health charity run by Atom Rahman, who helped save conjoined twins Trishna and Krishna.

The surgery here revealed she was actually a twin who had taken over the lower body of a sister so it became a living part of her, with two sets of organs in her lower abdomen.  But is a remarkable and unique operation, Assoc Prof Kimber’s team were able to build and then reconstruct her internal organs so successfully that she can not only function like any other child, but will be able to one day become a mother.

With her recovery exceeding all expectations, foundation spokesman Pat Weldon said she was now ready to return home to a full life including school.  “It is amazing to see her because she looks just like a little toddler,” he said.

“Now she is running around the way any other toddler would.  She is probably the happiest kid you could ever meet in your life.”