Once again the Cabrini-Children First (CFF) Big Day Out was a wonderful success.
This time the children’s ages ranged from seven to fifteen years and their countries of origin were even more diverse: Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Palestine, Zambia, the Philippines and Vietnam. As usual, all the children were awaiting, or recovering from, life changing surgeries and in most instances they had been separated from family for an extended time. The day was a fun distraction and they threw themselves into it.
Staff also jumped into the spirit of the day. Kiley Harkness from Communications took the lead role on this trip and said, “For me, it’s about providing the children the chance to experience the feeling of being part of a group of people filled with love and compassion, while giving them a moment where they forget everything and just have fun. If I make them smile sometime during the day it makes it all worthwhile for me.”
The Cabrini-Children First Big Day Out initiative began in 2004 to support the great work of the CFF in a different way. Staff who engage with Cabrini’s Social and Community Engagement Program through volunteering can form special relationships with the children, some of whom they might meet through Cabrini’s medical evacuation program or at subsequent outings. “A small core of our regular volunteers form friendships and the kids really start to talk, joke and open up,” says Ruth Knight, Community Benefit Program manager. “Staff are always amazed at the transformation of some of the kids. Not just physical, post-surgical correction changes, but the boost in confidence that comes with that. It’s overwhelming.”
On this occasion, eleven staff and family members accompanied the children and all enjoyed two games of bowling before moving the festivities to a nearby park for a picnic. Food supplied by the Cabrini staff included savoury muffins, sandwiches, fruit, chips, jellies and homemade cakes and slices; so the children had quite a feast. It was amazing that at the end of the day they still had the energy to kick a footy, chase a frisbee and play ping pong – but they did. Here they were able to play freely and enjoy just being kids without thoughts of surgery or homesickness.