One Narellan mother is determined to aid a Paraguayan boy overcome a birth defect she knows all about.
Lana Mayes, 34, has helped mobilise charities and residents to support a boy named Tobias overcome clubfoot – a congenital deformity where the feet of a baby turn inwards.
Mrs Mayes was inspired to help Tobias after she saw him featured in a television documentary late last year.
Her son Zachary, 4, has recently completed treatment for the same defect.
“My first thought when I saw Tobias on my screen, was that he did not need to go through life with untreated clubfeet,” she said.
“I saw a little boy of a similar age to my own son, and imagined how different life could be if Tobias had access to the same treatment our son has had.”
Mrs Mayes joined other families from the Aussie Clubfoot Kids in the search to find out Tobias’ name and help arrange treatment.
She reached out to organisations and charities in a bid to find the information and before long, Tobias was found.
“One of those emails eventually reached an organisation called Mil Solidarios, who are based in Asuncion, the city closest to where Tobias and his family live,” she said.
“It was only a few weeks later that I received a message and photo confirming Tobias had been found. I will never forget the disbelief and hope I felt when I saw his photo come through.”
Since making contact, non-profit organisations miraclefeet and Fundacion Solidaridad joined Clubfoot Kids and Mil Solidarios in organising treatment for Tobias.
Tobias has completed the casting phase of his treatment and has also been fitted with a special brace he will continue to wear over the next few years to correct his feet.
While treatment is underway, Mrs Mayes has also established a fundraising page to raise $6500 to enable Tobias to continue treatment for the next five years.
“Tobias and his family face many challenges which could prevent him from receiving treatment. They live in a poverty stricken community and so do not have either the financial or logistical means to access treatment,” she said.
Mrs Mayes said she has also organised to donate $15 from every copy sold of her book Trust Your Melody to go towards funding Tobias’ treatment.
She said she hoped Tobias’ story will prompt more awareness of clubfoot and show the power of community.
“Within the Macarthur community I know of quite a few families affected by clubfoot – and there are probably many more,” Mrs Mayes said.
“I hope that everyday people see that when we join together as a community, each of us have the power to have a positive impact in the world.”