In the second part of our look at how charity fundraisers are changing the lives of those in need in the region, The Resident journalist Nikki Hall meets a family who organised a fundraising parachute jump to help raise money for the groundbreaking medical treatment their son desperately needs.
THREE-YEAR-old André Fernandes is severely brain damaged and lives in a near vegetative state as a result of alleged medical malpractice. He can’t talk, he can’t walk and he can’t sit up unaided. Yet, he is the most beautiful and charismatic child you will ever come across, say close family friends.
André’s disability occurred at birth after his mother, Rute, went into labour in the Portimão Barlavento hospital. Her doctor left her struggling for too long, resulting in André sustaining severe brain damage.
Since then, Rute has had to cope with the fact that her only child will never be able to run or play with other children. “It’s the small things in life that you start appreciating after something like this happens,” said a close friend of the family. Now, however, there might be hope. Rute heard about a young girl from China, in a much worse condition than André, who miraculously started to walk and talk after attending a programme at the CIREN clinic in Cuba, which specialises in the field of neuroscience. Rute contacted the specialists and André has an appointment in Cuba at the end of April.
The family needed to raise a total of 12,500 euros in order to be able to attend the appointment and pay for the therapy – an amount that they simply did not have. Rute’s childhood friend, Minda and other family friends decided to help them by holding several charity events, one of which, a parachute jump by 67-year-old David Davis, was organised by Chris Wilson from the Calipso Bar, at Alvor aerodrome.
Over 50 people gathered as volunteers, including several family members, jumped. “When we asked André who was jumping for him, he would look at David,” said David’s wife, Mary Davis, who also helped raise money for André. The event raised 2,500 euros from local residents. “We would like to thank everyone who sponsored the event and say a big thank you to all staff at the Alvor aerodrome. If you could see him, you would know it is all worthwhile,” David explained in tears. In an attempt to raise more money, David, who was also a professional rugby player from Bath in the UK, returned to England, where he contacted Comedown and Walcot rugby teams who donated a total of 2,000 euros. Even eight-year-old neighbour Tomás Grey has raised 45 euros to help André. Mary revealed that the 11,000 euros needed has now been raised, although they still need 500 euros to complete the 1,500 euros air fare. “Now we have started a raffle and local restaurants and shops have kindly donated items to raise the 500 euros to send André and Rute to Cuba,” she revealed.
On offer is a set of golf clubs, dinner for two and a bottle of wine from Marcos Restaurant, a bedspread from Factory Outlet shop, a bottle of whisky and a bottle of Croft Brandy, a bottle of Macieira and a sky diving hat. Tickets cost just one euro each. If you want to buy a ticket, please call Barbara or Mary on 912 189 990. If you would like to donate money towards André’s fund, the bank account number is NIB: 003300004525727564505. “André needs as much help as possible. It’s just not fair,” Mary said.
The Bamboo Charity, referred to in last week’s Every Little Helps part I, is located at Quinta da Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe in Budens. “I would like to thank all of those sponsors who generously donated prizes for our raffle and to those who kindly volunteered at our party-dinner on March 20,” charity organiser Nana said.