The children who are referred to Miracle sMiles have suffered injuries or are born with congenital anomalies that are operable, but cannot be treated in their country of birth.
Beyond physical health
There is no doubt that the children in our program undergo enormous changes to their physical health. Their experience with Children First, however, extends far beyond the physical.
While many of the children we help have endured prejudice and ignorance, being part of the Children First family in Australia has allowed them to enjoy complete acceptance regardless of their disability or injury. We believe that Children First has a particular responsibility in promoting understanding and acceptance of difference. This continues to be central to the work we do and the relationships we have.
During their time at the Miracle sMiles Retreat the children also experience a mini ‘United Nations’. It’s a place that embraces the diversity of the family who live there; the cultural, ethnic, religious and gender differences of the children who are brought together because of their shared need for transformative surgery.
The process for our children
Every child’s experience will vary depending on their country of origin, medical condition and a number of other factors. The illustration below indicates a typical process for a child entering the program.
Referral to Miracle sMiles
When children are referred to us we consult with surgeons and hospitals to ensure the condition is operable. If the child’s case is accepted, our case manager undergoes the often complicated task of arranging the visa, passport and flights for medical evacuation.
Arriving in Australia
Once in Australia, children are cared for in a supportive family environment at the Miracle sMiles Retreat at Kilmore.
Generous and committed volunteers work with our RetreatManagers to help care for the children. They assist with household chores and meal preparation, and also take children to medical appointments. Our volunteers become a vital part of the children’s lives while they are here.
Home schooling while in Australia
Volunteer teachers provide home schooling and activities for the children, particularly those who require an extended stay in Australia.
This unique model of care helps the children grow in confidence and they generally return home speaking English, which can be beneficial for their future opportunities.
Children First in South Australia
In 2007 Children First established a relationship with the Craniofacial Unit in Adelaide in South Australia.
Thanks to the generosity and skills of Professor David David AC and his team, along with the Women’s & Children’s Hospital and the Memorial Hospital, children receive life-changing craniofacial surgery in Adelaide.
The Adelaide Volunteer Team
We have an amazing team of volunteers in Adelaide. When necessary they meet each child and parent at the airport, visit them in hospital and provide a familiar and friendly face during what can be a very stressful time.
The SA team also raises funds on behalf of Children First to support the children who are treated in South Australia through the Miracle sMiles program.
Children First India
Childhood heart disease is prevalent in Australia as well as overseas resulting in an increasing number of Australian children needing heart surgery. As it became more difficult for children from overseas to access cardiac surgery in Australian paediatric hospitals, Children First sought support overseas.
In 2009, Children First sent our first patient to cardiac surgeon Dr Cherian at the Frontier Lifeline Hospital in Chennai. Since then a number of children have undergone life saving heart surgery in India.