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I would guess that none of the people opposed to a Ronald McDonald House being built in Dunedin have ever spent any time in one.
I would guess they have never had the devastating and life-changing news about their child which often leads many people to their doors.
I would guess they have never actually walked into one of those buildings. And I can only assume, they don’t care.
Because if they did understand or care at all, they would know that Ronald McDonald House is not about a fast-food chain. It’s about unwavering support, security, family and peace of mind.
On November 28 last year, we were told our 10-year-old daughter had a large tumour pressing on her chest. It had moved her vital organs and she was struggling for breath. Forty-eight hours after my daughter and I were flown by life flight to the Children’s Haematology and Oncology Centre at Christchurch Hospital, I staggered to Ronald McDonald House to see where my son and husband had spent the past two nights.
As soon as I walked in the doors, I was welcomed, by name, by the ladies at the desk. They hugged me while we all cried. They made me a coffee and I met other parents going through the same thing.
We had a warm bed, a room to call our own, a fully equipped kitchen, playground for the children, and our every whim catered to for the next six months. But most importantly, we had support. The people we met quickly became our friends, our family and our rocks when the going got tough.
For Hannah, being well enough to be released from hospital to spend a couple of days at Ronald McDonald House was something to aim for. She couldn’t wait to play with the other kids she had met, to have a comfortable bed and to see the staff who always made her feel like the most important person in the world.
Our Christmas Day at the House was the best we could have asked for in the circumstances. I’m not sure I could have survived if it had to be spent with just us in an anonymous hotel room.
And by the way, for those with the weak argument that the name is bad because it is associated with McDonald’s, I can assure you none of the dozens of children who went through that house at the same as us were there because they were obese. Nor were we once offered McDonald’s for tea!
To the people opposing this service in Dunedin, please, put yourself in the shoes of the people needing it. Your argument is cold and closed-minded.