The bond between mothers and their children is one defined by love. As a mother’s prayers for her children are unending, so are the wisdom, grace and strength they provide to their children.
I’ve met Nissy Nassif, Founder of the Wiping Tears Charitable Foundation last year at their annual Sunlight Ball. Both Nissy and husband Jean, continue to seek and help families around Australia who face financial hardship due to health issues. Working with families on a very personal basis ensuring each case is treated according to what the family need.
Nissy and Jean have found an inspirational mother of two kids, Sarah, a 34 year old mum of Jack (2 years old) and Josh (4 years old). Her hands are kept pretty full with her two boys, as Jack has Down Syndrome and Josh has severe Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Josh was diagnosed with Autism at 2 years old when he didn’t reach typical communication and development milestones. His lack of speech was the first sign that he had a problem.
Sarah commented, “He would always look at me but the words were just never there. Josh has no concept of what today is, what tomorrow is and why you’re here. He can get very unhappy and cry and cry. But we have no idea why because he can’t communicate with us.”
Josh has outbursts of unintentional behaviour, where he hits himself. Sarah commented: “He’s not violent or aggressive to other people but he can be violent unintentionally. He’s actually very affectionate and sweet. He hugs and kisses me all the time.”
Nissy Nassif and the team from Wiping Tears visited the family days before Christmas in 2019 to spread some festive cheer and meet the kids.
2-year-old Jack is very relaxed and happy all the time. Doctors picked up on Jack’s Down syndrome at 13 weeks into Sarah’s pregnancy and they were pressuring her to terminate the pregnancy.
“I’m not that religious, I can’t explain it, I just didn’t feel right about the idea of terminating. We had people messaging us telling us all these things that can be associated with Down Syndrome and saying I should end the pregnancy”, she said.
Feeling overwhelmed, Sarah joined a couple of private Facebook groups of mothers with kids who have Down Syndrome.
Until she found Down Syndrome Australia Pregnancy Group, a hidden Facebook group for Mums who have kids with Down Syndrome. She then found that all the stories from these mothers were really positive.
“These mothers told me such beautiful positive stories. None of these parents were complaining about their kids with Down Syndrome, they were complaining about their other kids sneaking out, stealing alcohol and stealing money. I thought they were lying to me to try and make me feel better”, she said.
But she soon realised she was making the right decision in keeping her baby. At this point Sarah didn’t know Josh was autistic but to this day she’s so grateful she made the decision, as she now has two beautiful sons and cherishes everyday with them.
“If we didn’t have Jack, I don’t know what we would do. He’s the light of our family. Even when Josh is having a meltdown, Jack goes over and hugs him. He’s such a sweet little boy,” she noted.
The family relies heavily on government grants to cover the expense of Josh’s speech therapy. Sarah has to be a full-time carer for both kids and so cannot work, particularly as Josh isn’t ready to be with other kids in a daycare or school setting. With the cost of special shoes for Jack to nappies for both kids and weekly groceries, their bills have piled up.
Nissy and Jean wanted to help Sarah and her family out, Wiping Tears Charitable Foundation covered the family’s daily expenses, such as rent, car payments and educational toys and equipment for the boys.
Nissy Nassif quotes: “Jack was the very first baby with Down Syndrome, I’ve ever met. He is one of the cutest kids I’ve ever met, with so much love to give. He will always be in my heart. I’m so pleased we could help Sarah and her beautiful family in some way.”
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear. To give an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life or family around.” Self quote from me to Jean and Nissy Nassif, Founders of Wiping Tears Charitable Foundation.
On a side note: 21 March is World Down Syndrome Day, on this day people all around the world celebrate the lives and achievements of people with Down syndrome, creating a global voice, advocating for the rights, inclusion and wellbeing of people with Down syndrome.
For further information on the foundation, visit wipingtears.com.au