Celestina’s Story

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Hello. My name is Celestina.

I am 17 years old and live in Dili, the capital city of Timor Leste. I am just about to sit my high school exams. I hope to go to University to study English. My dream is to be an English Teacher. I am going to work very hard to achieve this dream because it has been a long journey to get here.

Today, I am happy and healthy with a future to look forward to, but five years ago, my life was very different.

I could hardly walk. I was in constant pain and couldn’t do what I wanted to.  Without the surgery and treatment that Children First Foundation facilitated for me in Australia, I would probably have had to spend my life in a wheelchair.

I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the kindness of Children First Foundation and supporters.

Some of you reading this may know and remember my story, but for those who don’t, I’ll tell you a little bit about it.

You see, I was born with a rare condition which caused lots of problems, and one big issue was my limbs. I had lots of difficulty with my knees and shins. My knees would just collapse, making it very challenging for me to walk. As I grew older, the problems with my legs just got worse.

The doctors in my country couldn’t do much to help me. I felt sad, hopeless and scared of what my future would hold.

Then like a miracle, I was given a new life because of Children First Foundation, doctors like Dr Donnan – and, of course, because of kind people like you. ❤️

In June 2015, I had surgery to fix my legs at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Melbourne. The doctors attached large and very heavy frames to my legs to help straighten them.

After the surgery, I spent 12 months at The Retreat in Kilmore, where I recovered and did my rehabilitation program. I had to do lots of exercise and physiotherapy every single day, and the frames needed to be adjusted daily. I think the frames weighed over 1.5kgs!!! It was tough and very painful, but so worth it all to be able to walk again.

The whole experience absolutely changed my life, including the year I spent at The Retreat recovering. I met volunteers, other kids from many different countries and made so many new friends. I loved the weekly education sessions we had; this is where my love for English first started. I also learnt to play the piano, swim properly and so much more.

Despite the challenges, it was a happy time, a place where I learnt that I could do anything if I worked hard at it and stayed focused.

I know that I am very fortunate to have had this help. I feel very honoured and blessed.  I have no way to repay the kindness but I always pray for the health and happiness of everyone involved with Children First Foundation.  

Making new friends from around the world
Physio Theresa from St Vincent’s Private helping me
Doing physio with the leg braces
Pool physio is more fun
Playing the piano
He found me in Australia!

I know I was one of the lucky ones. There are so many children around the world living with conditions, like mine, or other sicknesses that can be healed – but perhaps just not in the country they live in.

Just like I did, they wake up every day to shattered dreams, crushed hopes, and so much suffering.

I understand the sadness that they feel, and I know you do too.

That’s why I hope you will consider giving one extra gift this Christmas, by donating to Children First Foundation so they can help more children and young people like me. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for giving us hope and helping us improve our lives. With your help, I know we can have a real chance to achieve our dreams.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas, wishing you all the happiness and health.


Celestina 🙂