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The importance of Play: Tosha and Aarya’s story

December 23, 2020

Play is an essential aspect of a child’s development, which our Houses help to make possible when family life is thrown into turmoil. This month, as we focus on the theme of ‘Play’, we’ve spoken to mum, Tosha, about how having space to just be a kid, and the opportunity to make friends, benefitted her daughter Aarya while her baby brother was in hospital. 

Tosha, Shailin and their daughter Aarya stayed in our Brighton House at the beginning of last year, while little Aaryen was being treated in the Trevor Mann Baby Unit. 

At just seven days old, Aaryen underwent surgery to untangle his small intestine, which was twisted into a figure eight when he was born. 

Over this period his big sister Aarya spent time at Ronald McDonald House Brighton with her parents, where they stayed for a little more than two months. 

Between Monday and Wednesday Aarya stayed at home in Croydon, where she was looked after by her grandmother. But the highlight of her week was Thursday, when she was driven over to the House to be with her parents.

Four-year-old Aarya made fast friends with Mohammed, who was the same age, and whose family was also staying in our House while their baby received treatment on the neonatal ward. 

“They were literally like neighbours,” Tosha said of Aarya and Mohammed.

“Mohammed’s room was just next to us in the House and their baby was next to Aaryen on the ward.”

When the weather was good the pair would head outside to use the playground in the yard of the House. When it wasn’t so good, they would head into the lounge, where they would watch TV together and talk. 

Tosha said it was an unbelievably tough time for her and Shailin. Aaryen was admitted into hospital just days after his birth. His parents realised he was not able to pass stool, so took him in for a check up. 

An investigative surgery revealed that his small intestine was twisted into a figure eight and needed to be untangled. As a result, he needed one surgery at seven days, and another when he was eight weeks old. 

“I never, ever, thought that we would go through something like this.” Tosha said. “We are so glad that we got the space in the House, and that we were looked after so well.”

“To be honest, I never felt like I was away from home.”

Being able to get at the House together as a family helped, Tosha said, particularly for Aarya, who thought the House was like a holiday home. 

“She loved it. We had to bribe her to leave, make up stories, say that her grandmother had chocolate for her –  that kind of thing.”

And for Tosha and Shailin, the House provided a bubble of support. 

“When we went to the house and used to meet other parents, we realised, ‘oh, it’s not just us’. I think it makes you stronger,” Tosha said.

Tosha and Shailin are now back home with the kids in Croydon. Aaryen was doing a lot better, Tosha said. 

“He’s growing well and he’s putting on weight, he looked like a completely different baby.”

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