PARISHES in Toowoomba and Brisbane are combining with the St Vincent de Paul Society to raise enough money for a car that would make the world of difference to a 12-year-old girl with special needs.
A little over a year ago a backyard playtime accident at Sara Mehari’s family home in Toowoomba left her with a life-changing hypoxic brain injury. Since then, she has been unable to walk, talk or eat, and needs 24-hour care.
She responds to people by moving her eyes and blinking.
Sara’s parents Mehret and Meskel Mehari, originally from Eritrea and living in Toowoomba for three years after migrating from Sudan in 2013, have had to move to Brisbane with their two sons and four daughters so Sara could be closer to the medical care she needs.
After months in hospital, Sara is now home with the family but getting her out of the house is a major challenge.
Because she is wheelchair-bound and has special care needs, the family has to hire wheelchair-accessible vehicles to transport Sara to school, medical appointments, church and other outings.
That’s why the family’s parish in Toowoomba – St Thomas More’s – with support from their adopted Parish of St Joseph and St Anthony, Bracken Ridge, and the St Vincent de Paul Society, have launched an appeal for funds to buy a suitable vehicle.
“In 2013, when they came to the parish, the parish embraced them,” St Thomas More parishioner Mary Taylor said.
“They’re a beautiful family, (and) we’re very fond of them up here.”
Ms Taylor, who visits the Meharis once a fortnight, said the appeal – Wheels for Sara – had raised $9500 in its first few weeks.
Sara’s sister Zina said the type of vehicle needed for Sara would cost about $55,000.
“If we can raise $55,000 NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) will pay for the necessary adjustments,” Zina said.
“We hope to get that as soon as we can.”
Zina, who shares much of the care of Sara with her mother, said getting her sister out of the house was very important.
“She feels more comfortable if she’s outside and not in the home,” she said.
“We wheel her to the nearest park every afternoon – this is just five minutes’ walk.
“She feels good (then) and follows (what others are doing and saying) easier. She enjoys it.”
Sara attends Geebung Special School – about 25 minutes’ drive from the family’s home – four days a week.
“We’re noticing improvements (in Sara),” Zina said. “She follows a lot more than before. She’s responding.
“We hope for the best …”
Bracken Ridge parishioners joined parish priest Fr Gerry Hefferan in praying a special blessing on Sara and her family at a recent weekend Mass, and Zina said that was much appreciated.
The St Vincent de Paul Society’s Northern Suburbs regional council president in Brisbane Don Gore said the region had become involved in supporting the fundraising appeal for Sara through the society’s migrant and refugee group.
“It’d be nice to be able to get a brand new vehicle for the family but, even if we could get a good secondhand one for them, it would save the family from having to hire vehicles to get Sara around,” Mr Gore said.
The society has opened up a bank account for the appeal.
Send donations to Wheels for Sara at St Vincent de Paul Society, Reply Paid 3351, South Brisbane, Qld 4101.
For more details or to donate email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (07) 3889 6990.