When things were frightening within Emma's home, her bedroom became her safe haven. Whenever chaos erupted, the quiet but determined twelve-year-old would retreat to her room, close the door, and lose herself in the world of books.
Amidst the shouts, crashes, and screams that filled the air, Emma found solace in the written word. For her, reading was more than a hobby; it was a way to escape the fear and anxiety that gnawed at her insides.
As Christmas approached, Emma found herself reading even more than usual, sometimes not leaving her room for days due to the violence around her. Then, on Christmas Day, her father's heavy drinking led to a violent episode towards her mother, after which he passed out from the alcohol. At that moment, Emma's mother gently closed the book Emma was reading, hugged her tightly, and whispered, 'It's okay, he won't hurt us anymore.'
Shortly after, they arrived at a shelter for women escaping domestic violence. While they were safe from immediate danger, Emma was still overwhelmed by fear.
This is a common experience for children in crisis accommodation—thrust into a new and unfamiliar environment after fleeing their homes in haste, leaving behind everything they knew.
During these initial hours in crisis accommodation, a Buddy Bag made a significant difference. For Emma, receiving a Buddy Bag that was just for her brought a moment of happiness in a dark time. It reassured her that she was welcome and cared for, finally safe.
Inside the Buddy Bag were essentials like a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, and body wash, which provided a sense of normalcy for a child trying to regain stability in a chaotic world. The bag also contained new underwear, socks, and fresh pyjamas, offering a clean and comfortable change of clothes, something many children lacked upon arrival.
But it wasn't just the practical items; the Buddy Bag also included items to bring comfort and joy to children when they needed it most—a teddy bear for extra cuddles, a fidget toy for stress relief, and, for Emma, a precious book.
When Emma and her mother fled their violent home, she had to leave her beloved books behind. The Buddy Bag allowed her to find a quiet corner to read, providing a welcome distraction from fear and helping her feel more at ease.
Each Buddy Bag is thoughtfully packed with essentials and comforting items, making a difference in the lives of children going through challenging times.