The Ross Family, Hamilton

The Ross family of Hamilton consists of mum Genaia, dad Hamish and three children – adults Hayley and James, and 17-year-old Amy. Hamish works in Land Development and Genaia is a Paediatric Nurse at Waikato Hospital.

Amy has a condition called Cystic Fibrosis (CF) that she has been battling since she was diagnosed as a newborn. CF is a genetic condition that causes damage to the lungs and digestive system, due to the body making the wrong kind of mucus. This predisposes Amy to lung infections and malnutrition, and set the family on a road where they dealt with multiple adversities.

The family have had to be back and forth between home and the hospital many times over the years, and have had the support of Ronald McDonald House along the way. They have experienced our Rotorua Retreat House, a facility created for families dealing with long-term or serious illnesses, as an extra source of comfort and reprieve. They first stayed here when Amy was younger, and Genaia states, “I remember arriving at the property and being so impressed by how nice and modern the home was. I can remember the kids going around and looking at all the home had to offer, a cupboard full of games, bikes, videos and their excitement picking which bedroom they were going to sleep in.”

She recalls fondly enjoying a cultural experience and Māori cuisine. “I remember experiencing the cultural show and feeling privileged to learn of the history and traditions of the Māori and then the hospitality shown to my family.   I often think of that evening and how giving people were to us; I was very thankful for the experience.”

Recently The family were invited to enjoy another stay, years down the track from their first. Genaia was grateful for the warm welcome they received from the staff, and for the opportunity to spend quality time together as a family, enjoying fish and chips out the front of the property enjoying the lake views. “I read out loud entries in the book from previous families who had stayed,” Genaia says, “whether it was the loss of a child or living with childhood illness, we felt a unity with other families that had shared this space.”

Genaia views the Rotorua Retreat House as a place that represents a haven for families suffering in some way. “It has been a gift to my families over the years. It really means the world to families going through tough times.”