Our charity partner ChildVision is the only place in Ireland totally dedicated to the education and therapy needs of blind and multi-disabled children. In 2014 we awarded a £25,000 grant to ChildVision to provide them with vital equipment.
One of the children who Childvision has helped is Ava. This is her story:
She is only 8. But some nights Ava turns to her mum and whispers, “I wish I remembered what you look like.”
She has wide blue eyes and a light bulb smile that leaves you happier, just for having seen it. If you meet eight-year-old Ava – and I hope you will when you visit – her hand will reach up and gently tuck itself into yours. And you will know. Ava is miles from what might have been, because while other babies were exploring their worlds, the light was fading from hers.
Ava would be blind before the age of two.
The creamy brown birthmarks that dotted her skin foretold tumours growing in her body. They foretold a part of her tomorrows as well.
“Run your fingers through your hair,” the doctors told her mum and dad. “Picture your hair is your brain. Ava has pre-cancerous tumours everywhere your fingers are. And on her spine and on her kidneys. At any time any one of them could grow into cancer.”
There were rounds of chemotherapy. Seizures. “Family time” meant specialists and endless tests and waiting rooms. And the child who could no longer see day or night came to endure the surprise sting of needles and the slow nausea of medication.
She stopped sleeping, stopped speaking. She started to regress. Friends moved on. Later as her brother and sister went off to school, Ava tapped ‘goodbye’ at the window. They always tapped back. Ava’s mum began to worry her last child – for however long she had – would be the one left behind, in the dark. No place of her own to go.
Ava still feels the wet nuzzle of the horses in the stable. She rings the chimes and senses the crunch of gravel or the squish of mud on our sensory trail. She is expert at “Smell of the Day” in the classroom. She hears the soft cluck of chickens when she feeds them.
Special therapies are needed for Ava and her friends at ChildVision. You can imagine there are things like suction machines to keep some of the kids breathing, and lifesaving skills could be needed at any moment. But in ChildVision keep those things in the background as much as possible. Because too often, the world focusses on what these kids can’t do. Your kindness today lets us continue to focus on what they can.
All you have to do is show a little faith… reach out, and take her hand.
“Ava just can’t wait to brush the ponies and have her lesson. She’s so proud of herself. Her world might be dark but at ChildVision it’s full of colour in a different way.”
— Ava’s mum