Mateo’s Story

Mateo was just eight years old when his father passed away, just a few weeks before Christmas. It was one of the hardest times in Mateo’s life, but thanks to The Girls & Boys Brigade and their supporters, Mateo didn’t have to miss out on the things that make the season merry.

Navigating life after loss

Nobody expected Mateo’s father to die. His life hadn’t always been easy, but he was in a new relationship, and had recently welcomed a new baby. Finally, he thought, they could be a happy family. Cancer was never part of his plan.

For two years, Mateo’s father fought his illness with grit and determination. Mateo lived with his grandmother at the time, and she would take him to visit his dad at the hospital. Sometimes they would do crafts or activities together during their visits. Other times, they would go to the movies. It was one of their favourite things to do together.

Unfortunately, Mateo’s father’s health deteriorated, and it was only a matter of time before it was time to say goodbye. It was a hard time for everyone, and Mateo’s family coped in different ways. His stepmother cut ties with Mateo and his grandmother, meaning that Mateo lost contact with his baby sister, too. He couldn’t understand why all of this bad stuff was happening to him.

Grandmother’s unexpected new journey

Mateo’s grandmother, Dolores, became Mateo’s sole carer. At 72, Dolores never imagined that she would become a full-time parent again. She loved Mateo and would do anything she could for him, but she faced limitations with her age.

As much as she wanted Mateo to have an active childhood, her own days of climbing trees and running around the park had long passed. Even going to the movies proved challenging because of her bad eyes. Physical challenges weren’t all – Dolores lived off a pension, and worried about providing for the needs of an energetic young boy.

Christmas was just around the corner, but Dolores was not in a position to go Christmas shopping. She felt numb, overwhelmed with grief and stress.

Mateo would not be receiving a gift from his dad. He would not be receiving a gift from his stepmother or sister. It was shaping up to be a very unhappy Christmas, until Mateo received a gift from The Girls & Boys Brigade.

A beacon of hope

A pair of headphones: that is all it took to make Mateo’s day. He would use them to listen to music or play video games. He was so excited and proud of his new gift!

Mateo and his grandmother also received a Christmas food hamper from The Girls & Boys Brigade with items to help them have a special meal. Not only did it provide practical assistance to their family during a very difficult time, but it let them know that there is a community of people who love and care about them.

But it didn’t stop there. Mateo, who had been attending The Girls & Boys Brigade since his Dad got sick, was also able to participate in the School Holiday Program. Not only did this provide Dolores with some much-needed respite and time to make arrangements, but it also provided Mateo with many opportunities to do active things that his grandmother couldn’t do with him. He even got to go to the movies with The Girls & Boys Brigade! It was one of his favourite days.

The Girls & Boys Brigade were able to support Mateo and Dolores through their challenges, both practically and emotionally. Dolores said it has been a godsend for their family. It hasn’t been easy, but they are settling into their new family situation. The community of people at The Girls & Boys Brigade have been an essential support network for them, thanks to the generous supporters who make our programs possible.

Your chance to make a difference

We know how much Christmas means to kids like Mateo. Unfortunately, for many of our families, covering regular expenses is already a stretch. “Extras” like Christmas presents, festive meals, and activities during the school holidays are simply out of reach.

While the events of this story are true, names and identifying details have been changed to protect their privacy.