There are so many reasons Australia is called the ‘lucky country.’ The ideals of ‘a fair go’ are evident in the way most people live – but sadly, that simply isn’t the case for everyone.
When Jason and Matthew’s* application for a Mary MacKillop bursary reached us, it was clear that these boys had not been ‘lucky’ at all. At the hands of their biological parents, they suffered severe abuse and neglect. They lived in squalor and filth. Deprived of basic necessities such as food, hygiene, affection, and cognitive stimulation, they existed but hardly lived.
Medical research shows us that the first five years of a child’s life are the most important for their emotional and intellectual development. These young boys were taught little and barely spoken to. They had received no education and no effort was made to develop them mentally or emotionally.
We received an application for Jason, age nine, and Matthew, age eleven, to receive a MacKillop bursary for their schooling. They are now approaching the final years of their primary education, and due to their own hard work and the diligent care of their foster parents, they have been offered a place in their local Catholic school. In their application, their foster mother says “When the boys came into our care in 2017, the trauma of their formative years was evident. It had caused catastrophic damage to their development and wreaked havoc on their entire beings.”
Their foster family is not wealthy. But where they lack material resources, they have an abundance of love for these little boys. They truly believe in the boys’ ability to overcome the limitations they were forced to endure. They dream of seeing Jason and Matthew thrive in a Catholic community that will give them a real chance of success in life. Their foster mother has enrolled them in activities that will stimulate their minds and development, such as tennis, boxing, robotics, music lessons, and chess. “I believe in their ability to learn and develop, and I just want them to do things other boys take for granted. I pray for them to have a fair crack at life.”
She believes a Catholic school environment, where they are cared for as individuals, and nurtured to thrive, will help them overcome their trauma. The boys have always had each other – even in the midst of their trauma, they looked out for one another and fought to stay together through more than seven foster homes, before they settled where they are now. Their foster mother tells us Jason is a sensitive young man, who shows compassion to others. A happy child with a delightful sense of humour, who excels when pushed to exert himself. Matthew is an optimist and loves to be outdoors, engaging in sports and play. He is sincere and kind, and people are naturally drawn to him. The children have been with them for more than four years and are finally starting to trust that the good things in their lives will not be taken from them again.
Today, you can help this family by giving them the lifeline of a Catholic community. Through your generosity, the MacKillop Fund provides education bursaries to support families desperate for their children to receive a holistic Catholic education. The loving care of a Catholic community gives these young people a place to belong. A cohort of friends who are ready to embrace and support them. A network of teachers and support staff who want to see them thrive.
*To protect their privacy, we don’t use the real names of bursary applicants. Please know their stories, and the impact you have in their lives, is real.