Five minutes with Ilona’s mum, Freda

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your daughter Ilona, and why you are at Children First Foundation.

My name is Freda, and I am a single mother to Ilona. She is the only child I have. Therefore, she is very dear to me. We come from a remote area called Gewoto in Papua New Guinea.

Raising a child with mild cerebral palsy is very challenging – difficult at times and tiring, but it’s also rewarding. Through Ilona’s condition, I have become a resilient person and a better mum.

Ilona is a strong and very special girl. Even though she has gone through so much adversity she is always cheerful and is always willing to help with anything. She likes to help in the kitchen with peeling vegetables or washing dishes. She is also really good at puzzles and she gives the best hugs. She is a person who doesn’t let her flaws define her happiness. She is always grateful.

Now we are here at Children First Foundation for treatment for Ilona’s leg.

Tell us about your time at The Retreat so far.

Our time here so far has been great.  Ilona is doing well after her surgery and now with her physio. She has also improved intellectually. She gets along with all the other kids, the volunteers and the staff. I spend my time taking care of her, but I also like to help with the household chores and have been doing a little bit of English with the volunteer teachers.

You have become a mum to all the kids at The Retreat and have formed lots of special bonds. Tell us a little bit about that.

The children may have come from different countries, families and backgrounds, but it is the pain, a little bit of help, love, kindness and laughter that brings us together. Being able to be there for them when they feel pain and needed help – as a mother, it’s a must that I have to do whatever is necessary to help all the children feel love and cared for. Especially when they are far away from their actual family.

What have you personally learnt during your time in Australia and at The Retreat?

Personally, I have learnt a lot of things. I learnt how to use electrical appliances like the washing machine, toaster, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, and the whipper snipper! I have never used these things before, because where I come from there is no electricity to use such things. I also learnt to sew, sketch and paint and some new and useful gardening skills.

Look at her go!

What are your hopes for Ilona and yourself when you head back home once Ilona’s treatment is complete?

When we go back home after Ilona’s treatment is finished, I am hoping that I can send her to school to learn so that she can become an independent young lady. As for me, I am hoping to start a poultry and small subsistence farm to help support my daughter.



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