5 Minutes with Rachael

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Tell us a bit about your life at home?

My name is Rachael and I was born in Zambia on 25 June 1998. I am the last born with 2 elder brothers. I lost my father in 1999 and I got separated from my brothers as they went to live with my father’s family, and I went to live with my mother’s family.

1999 was when my hip problems started. It started just like a small pimple on my hip. My mother took me to different hospitals and tried traditional medicines, but it went on and on. For a time, the wound healed up and the pain became a little less. In 2005 my mother died, and I moved to live with my aunt in a different district. She took me back to hospital and they referred me to a big hospital where they treat patients with bone problems. The hospital was 2 days journey from my village. We fixed a date for me to see them about my hip but then I had to move to stay with my father’s family. It wasn’t easy as I moved from one place to another.

After my year seven exams I was selected to go to a good boarding school because I had good results, but we couldn’t afford the fees. My aunty runs a business from our home so it is very busy and hard to find quiet time to study. I spend a lot of time at school because it is more peaceful for me to study.

In 2015 the pain in my hip became very bad again and I went to the hospital and had an X ray for the first time. The doctor told me I have no structural bone inside my leg and so I need to get help fast because waiting would make it more critical. They told me that the condition was too much and that soon I would stop being able to walk. I continued going to hospital for help but in 2018 they told me they couldn’t do anything else for me in Zambia and it ended.

By April 2018 I couldn’t go to school anymore. I was deformed and heartbroken. I was so afraid of losing my leg and not being able to go to school. I talked to my cousin and he helped me find Mr Chuma*. He helped me come to Australia. He gave me lots of hope and told me to keep praying and be strong.

Why are you at Children First Foundation?

I have come to CFF to get my hip surgery done to replace the bone that has been missing. I want to get back what I have lost like my health and my hope for the future.

When I first got here seeing and hearing what they had done for other children I knew it was the best place for me to get back my future, despite what I have been through. I have a very big faith that say 100% that being here will change my life in so many ways. I started feeling at home as if I belong.

What is your hope for the outcome of your time at CFF?

Being a disabled person is not easy lots of dream are shut down for the future. I am hoping for wonderful news and for things to happen in my life. I want to change my life like not being in pain and not using crutches. I will get my hip fixed so I can walk and be able to carry my school books again. Because this is my only opportunity, I depend on this but always tell myself I am very lucky.

*Rachael was referred to Children First Foundation by our good friend, Kamandete Chuma who has helped several other children access our support. Rachael has been accepted for treatment by Assoc Professor Leo Donnan at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Melbourne. She is currently living at the Retreat in Kilmore preparing for her surgery – her journey to recovery will be a long one but we know you’ll be right there alongside her every step of the way.