Have you ever found yourself smiling along to a child’s laughter, even when you have no idea what the joke is?
It’s the strangest thing, but there are few things as uplifting as the spontaneous laughter of a child. That uninhibited, right from the tummy sound that you just can’t get annoyed at (even if it is in the middle of Mass. Or during the principal’s speech at an awards ceremony).
These are the moments that foster parents Joe and Sarah live for. To hear 11-year-old Kirra* giggle with her baby brothers. There was no laughter when she first came into their care. Now, to hear her giggle emerge from her is a sign that some of the fear she lived with for so long is starting to disappear.
Kirra’s been through significant trauma. Her formative years were filled with parental neglect and abuse. She had no trust in the adults around her. When she and her brothers came into their care two years ago, Joe and Sarah knew that their first and most important task would be to teach the children that life is precious and that they are loved unconditionally by their new family and by God.
They were desperate to give her a Catholic education, to ensure she has the holistic, faith-based care and school experience she needs. In November 2019, Kirra was preparing to transition to high school. Sarah’s foremost concern was that she would get lost in the system. “The abuse Kirra survived as a toddler requires an ongoing need for special support. There are many appointments and therapy sessions. That, together with caring for the two little ones, makes it difficult to take on full-time work” says Sarah. “But that leaves our family dependent on my husband’s income, which just doesn’t stretch to cover school fees.”
Sarah and Joe applied for a MacKillop bursary with the help of their local parish priest. They told us of their deep conviction that Kirra deserves the best opportunity to thrive and grow. That she is a bright young lady who, with the right support and guidance, will go on to achieve great things. They wanted to give her a fighting chance.
Through the generosity of donors to the MacKillop Fund, she got that chance. Kirra was given a community of teachers who know and understand her unique needs. Through generous support, this young lady is slowly learning to hope and to dream. She has awakened to the joy of unconstrained laughter.
Kirra’s fees for the year-7 camp were covered as part of her bursary. Her teacher tells us she participated in all the activities and even began developing some relationships with her peers. He shared that, despite the hurdles she faces, Kirra is a lovely young girl. A happy and positive person who is always respectful of and compassionate towards others.
Kirra had a difficult start to life, but she has shown great courage to adapt and begin to trust and love those around her.
In the 2021 school year, 12 additional children will receive the love and support of a caring Catholic school community. These young people come to us from all walks of life. Some, like Kirra, are in the care of foster families and overcoming severe trauma. Others have fled domestic and family violence. Many are from families that have fallen on financially hard times and need our care more than ever.
As always, the need for support far outweighs the funds available. And as with Kirra’s late application last year, we have nine more very deserving students waiting to receive an outcome to their bursary applications – but all our funding has been awarded.
If you are in a position to help, would you please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support one of these children.