At the Retreat the children have the comfort of a home away from home, and the security of knowing this is where they’ll play, eat, sleep and heal while we care for them. They have their own shared room with their bed covered by a quilt they select and then take home – a quilt lovingly made and donated by one of our generous supporter groups.
The children we help arrive with limited clothing, unable to speak English and sometimes undernourished. Some have previously undergone poorly managed surgical intervention so they are understandably fearful of what’s ahead. They have often been ostracised and excluded from their community and from attending school due to their condition or appearance
Our staff and volunteers provide a holistic model of care that recognises the child’s emotional, cultural and physical needs while they’re in our care. They receive consistent care from one team in one location from arrival until they return home.
A member of our Retreat team meets the child at the airport giving an immediate sense of familiarity and continuity. Young children will be escorted by a parent or guardian, and depending on their mobility, older children travel alone or may be escorted by a Children First representative.
Because most of the children have never been away from home before we work towards gaining their confidence and trust. Our staff and volunteers create programs to develop their English skills, help them socialise and prepare for surgery.
The children come from diverse cultural backgrounds and beliefs, so we engage with their communities in Australia to ensure they maintain their language and other cultural customs, as well as maintaining contact with their family at home.