This week, 52 Lives would like to help change the life of a Portuguese woman living in London, and her three children.
Lahela has been living in the UK for 15 years. She met her partner, who is Polish, over here. 3 years ago, her partner was arrested and gaoled, before being extradited back to Poland. There was an outstanding warrant related to a crime he committed when he was a young man (he is almost 40 now).
From the moment he was arrested, Lahela was left on her own with her three young children. She was confused, scared and very alone.
I heard about Lahela from a charity befriender who has been helping her for the past 3 years. She said she is constantly amazed by just how resilient this woman is. She said no matter what life throws at her, she carries on and tries to do the best she can for her three children.
Lahela has a stomach condition called Helicobacter Pylori, a type of infection which is causing her pain and requires regular trips to the hospital for investigations and treatments.
Lahela’s eldest daughter is 15. She is having difficulties in school, and they suspect she is autistic but she hasn't yet been diagnosed. She has been bullied and it has affected her very deeply, to the point of her having suicidal thoughts. She is being seen by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
Her youngest daughter is 3. She has a lot of issues with her throat, and has been getting reoccurring infections and has breathing problems. Lahela has spent a lot of time in A&E with her, and she has had to be tube fed at times. She will need to have exploratory surgery to determine the root cause.
This leaves her middle daughter (age 12) with far too much responsibility for someone her age.
Lahela’s dream was always to be hairdresser. She trained and saved for the equipment, but between her illness, having children and dealing with their incredibly challenges circumstances, she hasn’t been able to carry it on. But she still plans to return to it and set up her own business again when she is able.
I spoke to Lahela for a long time, and I can’t believe how much she is dealing with on her own. I could hear her crying on the other end of the phone when I told her we want to do something nice for her and her children, This is an issue very close to my heart...I used to work for a charity that supports families of prisoners, and it made me realise how isolated people in this situation can feel. They have done nothing wrong, but often receive little sympathy or support.
With your help, it would be lovely to try to do something special for this family.