You know, we're pretty lucky here. Or blessed, if you prefer, although I myself dislike the implication that people not born here are therefore somehow less blessed. But hey, either way, no matter what you think of the fairly swingeing cuts in support for some of the country's most vulnerable families, we're actually still pretty lucky here.
Life might not be full of luxury, and for a lot of people basic necessities are a struggle. The safety net has bigger holes than it's had for many years, and for some, the struggle to straddle the gaps are getting harder and harder.
But it doesn't compare.
This is Alina*
No one knows exactly how old she is, but the experts think she is probably between 2 and 3 years old. She was found, a few months ago, abandoned in some bushes.
Alina has Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy (HIE). Long words, but essentially, she has brain damage which is likely to have happened at or around birth. My Mog also has HIE. Mog's birth parents couldn't cope with the challenge of caring for Mog day in, day out. They were lucky, and so was she. They were able to leave her in hospital, our National Health Service and Social Services provided for Mog, and now she and I have each other. I'm definitely very lucky - I get paid actual real money to parent Mog, and how awesome is that?
But, without access to social services, without access to anything like the amount of free healthcare we have the luxury to complain about, Alina's parents managed to keep her alive for two years. What then caused them to abandon her? Why in the bushes? Where were these bushes? Did they know she would be found? Did they watch as she was rescued, and hope that now she would have a chance at a better future? Do they now have any way of knowing where she is and what has happened to her, or did the burden of knowing that they simply could not meet her needs break them completely?
Aline, unlike Mog, was born in India. I guess she is lucky too - she was found in these bushes, and taken into a government orphanage, where she was cared for, was able to receive medication for her seizures (common with HIE). And now she is in the care of Sarah, and her life is going to go on getting better and better.
This picture is deceptive. Alina cannot sit unsupported, she is very weak, very tiny, and seriously malnourished. She urgently needs more medical help than the government orphanage have been able to give her. She needs food, clothes, physiotherapy, vaccinations. And she needs an Ayah (nanny) to love her, to cuddle her, to rock her and comfort her and teach her that she is in a good and safe environment.
We pay our taxes, and a proportion of that money (not enough according to some, too much according to others) goes towards meeting all Mog's needs. I know how much some of her needs costs, others I have no idea - I'm just thankful that they are provided for us. Sarah does not have that financial help. She estimates that meeting Alina's basic needs (care, food, nappies, clothing, medicine) will cost a little under £100 a month.
£100 to keep a child alive and show them they are loved. It's not much really, is it? Sarah is now looking for sponsors for Alina, and for the 22 other new children the government orphanage have just asked her to take responsibility for. Can you help? If not with the whole sum, then by sponsoring a portion of Alina's costs? A takeaway, a bottle of wine or even one less cup of Costa a week - most of us wouldn't notice the difference to us. But it might make all the difference to Alina, and I know it would make a huge difference to Sara.
You can find Sarah's blog here . A word of warning; since I started writing this post, Sarah has posted details of her very newest child, and some people may find the photos disturbing. Emma is very seriously unwell and in desperate need of prayers and medical help. And you know what? Emma has Spina Bifida - as does my Little Princess. But whereas my Little Princess was lucky enough to be born over here, and receive neurosurgery on her first day of life, little Emma was not so lucky. Let's just pray it's not too late for her, and that she too knows the love which is surrounding her now she has been found.
However badly off you may be at the moment, it doesn't begin to compare. Sarah said she couldn't take these newest children without raising the funds for the initial costs of taking them. Those funds came in within days - now she needs our help in making things work for the next weeks, months, years. If you visit her website (and for those who would rather not see pictures of such a desperately ill baby there's a link here which will take you directly to a page with all her newest children apart from Emma on it) then you can donate via paypal. Alternatively, email Sarah at email@example.com and she will sort things out for you. Be aware she is arranging care for the 22 newest members of her extended family, sorting out urgent medical care for Emma and other acutely poorly children, juggling the needs of the other children already around, oh and pregnant with twins, so please be patient if you don't receive an immediate response!
*Not her real name. But she is a real child, and this is her real story, as far as we know it.
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