COVID19 Update from our CEO

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Dear Friends,

I hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well in these uncertain and challenging times.

With the Coronavirus pandemic escalating, the health and wellbeing of our children, carers, volunteers, staff and community remain our number one priority.

We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely. We have implemented numerous measures to help protect our children and everyone else concerned, and are ready to respond to change whenever necessary.

When we were informed that the Royal Children’s Hospital was postponing beautiful Doris’ second surgery as a result of the pandemic, we quickly pulled out all the stops to get Doris and her dad home to the Solomon Islands, while it was still possible to do so. Doris will return for the second surgery for her burns, when all this is over. For now, we know that she is super happy to be reunited with her family, and over the moon to finally meet her new baby brother.

Remember gorgeous little Konny? Konny and his Dad, Gerkess headed home to Papua New Guinea for Christmas after Konny had completed the treatment for his clubbed feet. They were due to return to Australia in March for his craniofacial surgery. We quickly put a halt to their travel plans, when the Australian Craniofacial Unit told us that they needed to postpone his surgery due to the Coronavirus crisis. Again, we will bring Konny back to Australia for his operation and treatment when it is possible to do so.

Meanwhile, our two older girls Rachael and Sonia, are still at The Retreat. As you will remember, they both had complex orthopaedic surgery in February and now have a long and tough rehabilitation programme ahead of them. Both girls are so determined – tackling their daily exercises and physiotherapy with such drive and vigour. As is little Ilona, another one of our orthopaedic kids who is here with her mum, Freda, and due to have follow-up surgery after completing her rehabilitation.

Cheeky Koko recently had surgery at St Vincent’s Private Hospital to replace the rod that was holding his injured leg together; he is currently in post-surgery recovery at The Retreat. When he has recovered and is ready to go home to Papua New Guinea, we will assess the situation and do what is safe and responsible in this ever-changing environment.

Sweet Christina from Tanzania was due to have surgery for her bowed legs in April, as was Kyla Joy from the Philippines for the severe burns on her lower face, neck and chest. And finally, beautiful Nichole, also from the Philippines, was due to have treatment for her severe scoliosis imminently.

With the daily changing coronavirus environment, and the Australian Government announcement made only yesterday (Wednesday) that all non-urgent surgery is now being cancelled – we will work through what the next steps are for Christina, Kyla Joy and Nichole.

Despite all that is going on – it is an absolute delight to see that the children in our care are still so happy, positive and ever so determined to change their futures. Special thanks to our amazing volunteers and Retreat staff for always wearing a smile and having a good laugh with the kids in these tricky times.

Whatever happens in the next couple of months, our mission to facilitate life-changing surgery in Australia for disadvantaged children from developing countries remains as strong as ever. Although COVID-19 has impacted on our ability to bring children to Australia for treatment at this present time and delayed our ability to have cases assessed, we remain committed to doing everything we can to facilitate surgery and treatment for these kids.

Because, as we say … if not us, who will?

Thank you for your continued support in Giving Small Lives Big Hope.

Take care and stay safe,

Elizabeth Lodge, CEO

CEO PS Did you know that you can stay updated with all the children you have helped support over the years, and all the action at The Retreat on our Facebook and Instagram pages? Make sure you follow us – the children’s heartwarming stories, I am sure, will go some way in lifting your spirits in these difficult times.

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