Change lives this festive season

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“I want to get better so that I can go back to school.  My favourite thing to study is mathematics. If I could continue my study, I would like to study education because I want to be a teacher like my mother”.Zenilda.

Please give a gift of hope and health to children like Zenilda.

12-year-old Zenilda from Timor-Leste suffers from severe congenital scoliosis. Her family first noticed the issue when she was just six-years-old.  As Zenilda grows, it is getting progressively worse. Just last year, she was forced to stop attending school because its too painful for her to sit, read or write for any length of time. 

Without appropriate treatment, Zenilda will continue to suffer for painful spasms, reduced mobility, and eventually breathing difficulties and cardiovascular problems.

Unfortunately, local surgeons in Timor-Leste cannot help Zenilda due to the complexity of the treatment and rehabilitation required.

But thanks to the support of generous people like you, we at Children First Foundation have recently brought Zenilda to Australia for life-changing treatment. She is currently at our Retreat in regional Victoria, where is receiving the best of care as her medical  team make their assessment on the best course of treatment and surgery for her.

Her treatment will likely be long and challenging, but it’s Zenilda’s only chance to live a normal life, free from pain – and we will be by her side every step of the way.

Your gift this festive season will change Zenilda’s life and the lives of other children, just like her.

Read Zenilda’s letter to you

We asked Zenilda to explain, in her own words, how the condition impacts her and how she hopes the surgery will change her future. 

Hello. My name is Zenilda.

I am 12 years old, and I live my family in Bebonuk, which is in Timor Leste. I live with my mother and father and my three brothers and sisters. I am the second oldest child.

When I learnt I was coming to Australia I feel excited and afraid too. I watched on YouTube about spinal surgery, and it was very complicated. But I know as long as I suffer from this disease, I will feel not happy so I will be brave.

About one year ago I stopped going to school. I feel not happy because I can’t go to school and can’t do activities that I want to, like help my mother wash dishes and house mop.  It’s difficult because even when I just put my head down, I feel bad back pain.

I hope after the surgery I want to be normal life like other people. I want to get better so that I can go back to school.  My favourite thing to study is mathematics and not my favourite is natural science. If I could continue my study, I would like to study education because I want to be a teacher like my mother

Merry Christmas to all of you. I thank you for help to bring me to Australia to have treatment, I thank you to all your support and I really appreciated for that.

Thank you very much


1.7 billion children worldwide do not have access to appropriate surgical care.

Prior to being referred to Children First Foundation, Zenilda was one of the 1.7 billion children worldwide without access to appropriate surgical care. As a result, she has endured many years of living with pain and experienced much disadvantage.

Had she been born in Australia, her condition could likely have been treated much earlier with a brace or other non-surgical treatment. It is these inequalities that we at Children First Foundation are passionate about addressing, because where a child is born should not govern their right to live a healthy and happy life.

Your donation will enable more children, just like Zenilda, to receive the life-changing medical care they desperately need  and a chance at a brighter future.

Your support will change the lives of children who desperately need help

Your gift today will help facilitate critical surgery and treatment for disadvantaged children from developing countries. Sometimes surgery is needed to save a child’s life; sometimes to change it – enabling them to attend school, live, walk and run pain-free or simply to become a more active member of their community.

Watch the video below to see more children’s life-changing transformations:

It is only through the support of generous people like YOU, that these children are able to get the help that they desperately need.

Please consider donating today.

All donations over $2 are fully tax-deductible. Thank you.

Read about more of our amazing children’s stories