Whilst some families are with RMHC New Zealand for many months, or sometimes years, families who stay a shorter length of time are equally appreciative of the accommodation and endless support provided.

The Rigby family from Timaru were visiting Wellington when their son Melakai had an asthma attack at 12 years old. He was taken to Wellington Hospital where his condition worsened. Melakai finally got his breath back with medication but needed to stay in hospital for a few nights for monitoring.

Melakai’s family, who were due to fly home the night he was taken to hopsital, worried about paying for additional accommodation. They even considered dad Kiha taking their two younger children, Kawa (6) and Ellie (4), home while mum Nikki stayed with Melakai.

When hospital staff told the family they could stay at Ronald McDonald House just across the road from the hospital, they had peace in knowing they could rest in home-like environment close to Melakai.“It was great that we could all stay at the House because it meant I had the support of my family as well,” says Nikki.

From the dinners cooked by volunteers to the play areas offered for the children, the family was grateful for the practical and emotional support offered. “It definitely helped us in a time of stress. Everything was taken care of. We didn’t have to worry about anything else, we could just focus on our family,” says Kiha.

When Melakai came off the ward, his family enjoyed a fun day at the zoo to create positive memories from their time in Wellington. “Having the free pass from the House was awesome. We were able to do something together as a family and forget about what had just happened,” says Nikki.

She couldn’t believe the thoughtful attention given to all the little details, such as Kawa and Ellie receiving teddy bears to take home with them. “We were absolutely blown away by everyone’s generosity and kindness.”

Now back in Timaru, Melakai continues to take daily medication for his asthma and is doing really well.

Nikki and Kiha have been paying it forward by telling friends and family about the support they received. “It’s an awesome place for the families who have loved ones in hospital. Anyone who has a chance to stay there while going through a journey like this is very lucky.”