Banin’s life was turned upside down after her youngest son, Zayd, was diagnosed with leukaemia unexpectedly a year ago just after his 2nd birthday.
“That was a big shock to the system”, said Banin. “The other kids definitely were shocked as well. My eldest son, Hamza, had major problems seeing Zayd sick in hospital. He started vomiting through night when Zayd was diagnosed. I think it was about his nerves and coping mechanism. My little girl, Safina, didn’t really know what was going on, she’s too young.”
Without family in England, Banin didn’t know where to go for support.
“We weren’t eligible for support because our income level was too high. But we didn’t want money, we wanted support. We spent three months going back and forth about support.”
Zayd would become sick without warning and need to be rushed into hospital.
“If I needed to rush to hospital for a week, they told me, if I’m not able to take them, then social services will come and take your children. I could not believe that was the best thing they could offer me. I was going crazy. I was getting depressed. I was losing it.”
The school liaison asked the council to refer Banin to Safe Families for Children. With her husband working away part of the week, Banin was anxious being alone with Zayd in case something went wrong. A Safe Families volunteer named Judith was put on call in case Zayd suddenly fell ill and someone was needed to look after the children.
“What calmed me down was knowing that if I had to run to hospital I could call Judith and she would come and care for the other two”, says Banin. “That was a godsend, I was really panicking about that. If he was constipated we were in hospital for 4 days. If he had any infection or temperature he was there overnight. Sometimes you’re at hospital waiting for simple blood test for 4 hours. If I’m stuck in hospital I can call Judith and she can come over and take care of the other kids.”
Judith heard about Safe Families through church and says it’s an honour and privilege to help where she can. “I know we all believe in God and we believe life is channelled certain way even though we don’t realise it. And Banin’s such a lovely girl and lovely family. We took to each other straight away.”
The kids are now in a routine and Judith helps with keeping Zayd on a feeding schedule before his chemo treatment so Banin can take the other children to their activities. If one of the children fall sick, Judith can step in to take Zayd out of the house so he doesn’t catch an infection.
Banin says, “Judith is like grandma. I remember her going to Safina’s Mom’s Day at school when I was stuck in hospital. I asked her, ‘Couldn’t you please go?’ Safina was so happy to have Judith there. I was so grateful that Safina wasn’t alone that day. She had Judith.”
Zayd is still on chemo. He and the family will face another two years of uncertainty while he finishes his treatment. But the year of intense treatment, being in hospital every single day, is over. There’s less stress in the house, and Judith is only a phone call away.
“I can’t imagine what would have happened is Safe Families hadn’t been there” says Banin. “To be honest, I’d have had a nervous breakdown. Until Zayd was in maintenance, for sure.
“I can sleep at night.”