Lord give me strength to write this in a way that the reader whose eyes are scanning over these words right at this moment will see the heart behind the fingers which writes them and may their own heart love the woman whose story I am about to tell…
This happened to me today. This story I am about to tell you unfolded in my own home not even 4 hours ago.
He likes twisties, the cheese ones. He sits on my sofa while his fingers fish around in a nearly-empty packet of them while watching Tom chase Jerry from one side of the television to the other and as he throws his head back in laughter he glances up and me to see if I find it funny too. My son hasn’t known him long but they are already good friends and I decided I liked him the first time his little tanned face and wooly afro walked through my door.
Aren’t five year old kids just the darndest things?
Their big old wobbly head sitting atop that skinny little neck. Those little faces trying to make room for those big eyes and their poor little bodies trying to make sense of their big old floppy arms and legs while carrying school bags that are so big they could just about take them off their back, unzip them and hop right inside. Five year old kids are just downright adorable.
Remember that first year your son or daughter started school? Remember the ABCs? Remember the 5 page homework reading books about the cat who caught a rat on the mat with a bat? Remember the certificates that would come home dotted with little elephant stamps? Remember the little friends that would start coming over after school to play lego or watch cartoons with your child and how you would stand there and raise your shoulders up around your ears and pull that ‘oh my goodness soooo cute!’ face and blink a few times hoping to almost capture a picture memory of the scene before you, knowing you were watching innocence.
That was me today. That was me, watching my five year old son play with his five year old friend and tell five year old jokes ‘Knock knock…’
That was me before a hammer smashed the lot of it and left me blinking in shock at how cruel the world can be and this is how it happened.
My son, his friend (lets call him Jessie) and I were walking back from a long swim at the pool. Jessie had been playing at our house and the swim had come after many hours of sitting in my sweltering garage on the first day of our Australian summer trying to sell the last of our belongings in a garage sale before my boys and I set off on our exciting and much needed Australian road trip
Jessie had been chattering for a few days now that he was also moving soon. When I asked him when exactly, he would shrug his shoulders. When I would ask him where to exactly, he would shrug his shoulders.
I put it down to him being five.
As we walk along a car pulls up, it is Jessie’s mother, whom I have met once before. Hello! Hello. Thank you so much for having Jessie… I hear you are moving? Yes! We leave tomorrow. Where are you moving to? We really don’t know! We are leaving on a road trip, an adventure. We will eventually end up with family for christmas. I need to talk to you.
And so thats where it started I suppose. You don’t really expect that kind of comment when making social chatter with the mother of your sons friend but there it was: I need to talk to you.
So I invited her in, apologised for the chaos my house was in, pulled a chair from the pile of packing debris and boxes and disorder, sat down across from her and then listened wide-eyed as she opened her mouth and allowed the words of her story to come tumbling out.
Born in Ethiopia to a 15 year old girl, the simple presence of Lissie must have frightened her young, baby faced, unwed mother terribly, and she was carried for hours across lands and plains before the girl placed her tiny baby on the side of the road, turned, walked away and never looked back. What a terrible way to meet the world.
A man found baby Lissie, gave her a name, raised her and then sent her to Australia to get an education.
Lissie gets her education and only a few short months before graduating, she meets an Australian man who decides he wants to marry her and without knowing that she could say no if she wanted (unfamiliar with our culture and customs) she agreed to marry him when he drops down on one knee after only three months. He then beats on her throughout the marriage which bore him 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…6 children.
Finally Lissie escapes from this despicable man and flees with her children to a woman’s shelter where they hide for 6 months. Upon emerging from the shelter, the reality of life on her own begins and she finds herself surviving on her own, raising 6 children with no family, no support, no anything.
She then becomes very, very unwell which coincided with her landlord illigally serving her with an eviction notice from her rental home of 8 years and, as she didn’t know her rights she started to look for another home.
Her time to find a new home was up 5 days ago. She did not find another house. Every applicaiton she put in was turned down as she has 6 children, even though they are the most soft, quiet, gentle children ranging from 5 – 17.
She has been homeless for 5 days.
Please read that again: SHE HAS BEEN HOMELESS FOR 5 DAYS.
I am crying as I write this.
She is right now driving to the beach to have dinner with her children and after that, they will drive around and around until late tonight where she will go to a friends house and sleep on her floor.
But here is what is going to happen and I need your help, please.
I have postponed my trip. I myself have to be out of my house by Tuesday, 4th at 5pm but am right now setting up beds in my living room, garage and spare room to accomodate her and her children until I myself have to move out if she will accept my offer to stay. I am changing my own holiday travel plans so that when we depart, the boys and I will drive directly to family rather than taking our time driving down the coast of Australia so we can save money on accommodation. The road trip is for now, cancelled but the money saved by these changes in plans will be put into an account I have set up to raise funds to get this family into a home asap. Thus begins the three day ‘Her children will have a home for Christmas’ appeal.
This is the part where I need your help.
I am a student and have very little in savings, my donation alone will not even come close to getting this family into a home, so I am going to ask you to please, please join with me. I need your help and as I type this I am crying, hoping that you will see how desperate and real this situation is and want to stand beside me and decide that we aren’t going to let this family be homeless for Christmas.
There are nearly 6.000 subscribers to this site. If every subscriber donated $1, then Lissie would have the money to be she needs to get her children into a home, and cover expenses while she waits for a crucial operation.
$1 is nothing for you to part with, but collaboratively it will change her circumstances and the circumstances of 6 beautiful children who have already gone through enough.
This is a very real situation. There is a mother driving around right now with 6 children and no where to go.
My heart is breaking for her. I have seen many things in my life but I have never had my spirit torn as it was today when this ill, desperate, weary and beautiful woman shared her heart and her situation with me today.
I can’t leave the Coast until I know this family are going to be ok but my own time is running out I am only one person, I just can’t do this alone.
You do not know this woman, you may never meet her, but I know her, and I love her and I am here right now, and if you stand with me, we can change 7 lives today.
All proceeds raised in this appeal will be given to the family to pay for the expenses of moving into a home, their rent, food and necessities. The first name of every person who donates will be added to a list and then framed and given as a gift along with the proceeds of this appeal. She will hang it in her new home and it will be a reminder to her and her children of the christmas where hundreds of strangers banded together and changed their life.
If you want to donate:
Go to the donation site that I have set up HERE. At the top of that page you will see this:
See there are 3 boxes. One is photos, the other ‘likes’ and the other ‘Donate’
If you click on the ‘Donate’ box, if will take you to a page where you can donate any amount you want. I ask you for $1. If you have the means to give more and want to give more, then do so, but even $1 will make a difference.
Alternatively, to give directly through PAYPAL then please donate to the email address: Vanessa_campbell@ymail.com.
My paypal account is linked to the account which will be collecting the funds for this appeal and given to her in three days.
THE APPEAL WILL RUN FROM NOW UNTIL TUESDAY NIGHT Pacific standard time.
This is a desperate situation which is unfolding RIGHT NOW. Please help me…. I just can’t do this alone….
Thank you everyone. I love you all, I have shared with you my journey and you have been beside me the whole way, but right now, I need you.
Note to the reader:
After the correspondence I have received today since posting this story I think I need to clarify: I am not the homeless woman with 6 children!!
The woman in question is the mother of my sons friend. I have written this story and set up the appeal after she visited me and shared with me her tragic story of her life and how she was currently homeless. She has now been told of this story, the appeal and the many, many donations that have already come forth. She was overwhelmed and overjoyed.
To everyone who took the time to read this story: Thank you. For everyone who donated: THANK YOU times one million.
Your generosity will change the lives of 6 beautiful children and one very incredible woman.