Anna's
Story

My Mum fought for me to have a better life

“I am going to speak a little about my life and why I became a boarder at Lord Wandsworth College. I was born in Zimbabwe and lived there for about two and a half years. I do not remember much of the place apart from the endless days I could spend in the sunshine.

“At the time, I thought everything was perfect. However what I did not know was that before I was born my dad had a stroke which left him mentally unwell, which together with diabetes caused him to struggle. My mum had to spend a lot of time looking after him, together with my sister and me. We moved to Australia when I was two and a half and my sister 5 the main reason being to be closer to our extended family who had moved there to escape the worsening situation in Zimbabwe. 

“When we were settled in Australia, and as I was getting older I started to become conscience of the fact that home life was different and my father had a different personality. He started to want complete control over the family, not letting my mum go out of the house, monitoring what money was spent and what food was eaten. From the age of 4 a strict diet of veganism was introduced to me. This included only a cup of nuts for breakfast and then other fruits and vegetables for lunch and dinner Foods such as chocolates or sweets were out of the question. 

“This left my sister and I unhealthy, underweight and unhappy. One day my mum got a call from my school mistress saying that at lunch time she had found me searching for food in the bin because I hadn’t been eating a substantial amount. I began to notice more and more the change in my dad and that my mum fought for my sister and me to have a better life. My dad would come home every day after work and check the bins to see if there were any sweet wrappers there. But this did not stop my mum from secretly giving us little treats and then having to put the wrappers in the neighbour’s bins. It began to upset me how down my mum seemed at the time. I was only young but frequently noticed it. 

“About 4 years after living in Brisbane, we moved to England to be closer to my Grandmother and Aunty.Things continued to get worse between my mum and dad and only a few months after the move my dad and mum separated. Soon after this my mum was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Leukaemia. 

“With my dad not living far away, my sister and I spent every other weekend with him. He kept on trying to manipulate things to make it sound as though everything was my mum’s fault. He especially tried to control me as I was the youngest, and eventually managed to convince me to stay and live with him. This, however did not last long, and when my mum came to pick us up at the end of the weekend, he would not let us go. I then realised that I had made a mistake and felt so guilty for what I had done. My grandmother later told me that she had never seen my mum cry so much. After this, my mum had to stand up in court to fight to have us back even though her condition was getting much worse. When we were back safely at home I was so scared to see my father again and had nightmares of him coming to get me. 

“As my mum was getting treatment for the cancer she kept up a brave face for everyone, never complaining and never showing that she was in pain. This went on for a long time and eventually she began to slowly recover from all the treatment she was receiving.

“One Sunday afternoon we went to visit her at the Royal Marsden in London.. Just before we left I remember her telling me to go into the bottom of her cupboard as she had a surprise for my sister and me. I can recall retrieving a package that enclosed a little doll, chocolates and notes to us. This was not the first time we had received such a package. When I was at my primary school, she had sent me a huge pink box on valentines day, that was filled with a teddy, chocolates and a large pink balloon. 

“This shows how caring and thoughtful my mum was, always thinking of my sister and me. When we were told to leave my mum, I remember being led out of her room and then as I was walking down the hall I turned and ran back to where she was lying, I gave her the biggest hug and told her I would see her again soon; not knowing that in fact that was the last time I was to see her, for a few days later she sadly passed away. 

“Following this, my sister and I moved to live with my Aunt, Uncle and their two small children. My sister soon left her High School and started at Lord Wandsworth College in

Year 9 having been accepted as a foundationer. I joined her the year after in year 7. 

“The Royal National Children’s Foundation helped out my sister and me by offering to help pay towards our school fees. This meant that I could become a boarder and experience all that the school offered. My sister left LWC last year , and is now in Sheffield University studying medicine. I have just started the Fifth form and am enjoying every bit of it.

“If it wasn’t for the RNCF I would not have been able to have as many opportunities as I have in the past five years. They have supported me so much and I know they continue to do that for others who have been in similar situations to me. After I have completed my GCSE’s and subsequent A levels, I hope to be able to help children who are mentally and emotionally ill,by using art therapy.”