A cup of tea with Wendy – A day in the life of a dream coordinator.
I have just started work on a dream for George (12) whose dream is to visit a chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa.
George’s parents Allen and Vanessa downloaded a dream application pack from our website in February. We received the completed pack in March and wrote and let his parents know George’s dream request had been accepted. We have a rolling programme of dreams and so it was July when I contacted the family to let them know I was ready to start work on George’s dream.
I had a long chat with his mother, and a chat with George so that he could tell me exactly what he wanted. Ideally he wanted to visit a monkey sanctuary in Africa, with chimpanzees. George said he’s always wanted to go to Africa. I told the family I would do some research and get back to them.
I found the details of some places in Africa where George could go and sent to the family by email. This is the reply I received: - Hi Wendy, George has had a look independently and had a look at your suggestions. The one that has caught his eye is your first one. Chimfunshi Chimp Sanctuary in Zambia. He desperately wants hands on experience and the photo on the website, showed this! He also liked the idea of camping there! George has also said he wants some African culture, such as meeting a tribe! I am just passing his thoughts on. George wants an adventure, for his dream ! I really hope we can achieve this, but keeping it realistic and safe! Thank you so much for your time and support. Warmest regards, Vanessa
As you can see, the dream is starting to change/grow as George thinks more about his dream and what he would like now that it’s a possibility. This happens more often than you’d think.
I’d told my colleague Denise about George’s dream and unbeknown to me at the time she’d told her brother-in-law Arthur. Denise is originally from Zambia and Arthur still lives there. He was so keen to help George fulfil his dream that he contacted the founders of the Chimfunshi Chimp Sanctuary as well as other local animal sanctuaries to see if they could help. After that emails started arriving in quick succession from Arthur and the sanctuary staff. All this was taking place alongside the other dreams that I’m working on so there were moments when I felt a bit overwhelmed and it took me a while to get a grip of things but I finally managed to separate out the information and make sense of it all.
As we were updating George’s mother Vanessa about the arrangements and offer of help she sent a wonderful email which said:-
We were a bit overwhelmed with your email! George is on the Autistic spectrum as well as DBA. It is vital I drip feed him, to ensure his understanding of all that is being offered, hence not replying earlier.
Initially he said, really, so am I going?
Later, Arthur is amazing, let's just let him organise more, I have already said I want to meet a tribe. And who wouldn't want to see Victoria falls, it's the largest waterfall in the world!
(Obviously done some research)
Just before emailing you I asked If there was anything he would like to say to Wendy!
As he swung on the door frame, he said yep I'm so excited! And don't forget the monkeys!
Regarding Arthur, George's grandad, who sadly passed away a few years ago ( he was an amazing man who had a great influence on George!!) was called Arthur and this really made George smile!!! We will obviously assist with fuel costs, because looking on the map, there really will be some mileage!!
Wendy I really can't express how our family are feeling, not just with your amazing charity but the enthusiastic response from the community in Zambia.
We are really grateful and I promise we will embrace this opportunity!!
George is defying medical expectation at present, the expectation was he would be heading for transplant later this year. However he has decided he is not ready yet and this experience will give him the strength to continue to fight and remain positive in his challenge to continue enjoying life to the extreme!!
He is unique, not too many words will be said, but if you saw his face, trust me, this is his dream, thank you xx
George and his family are hoping to travel to Zambia in May/June next year so we are currently at the stage where George’s family are completing the forms required for the trip. These include a contact details form with passport and emergency contact details, medical needs questionnaire so that we can ascertain George’s mobility and medical needs, a doctor’s fit to fly letter which has to be supplied by a GP or consultant and three insurance quotes so that we can purchase the best value policy for the family.
Once the completed paperwork has been received George’s family will tell us their preferred travel dates and then we’ll go ahead and book the flights for a 14 night holiday to Zambia. From there we will work out an itinerary for the trip from all the wonderful offers of help we’ve received from the various organisations in Zambia and then co-ordinate their accommodation in between the different places they’re travelling to. The search for accommodation will be the next thing to be done.
This is a very complex dream requiring a lot of time and attention but provided I get it right it will also very rewarding.
The highs and lows of being a dream co-ordinator.
This morning we heard that a company had donated £3000 to George’s (A different George) Tardis appeal which was brilliant and had us all cheering and then this afternoon.
I spoke to the father of a 19 year old young man called Francis from Bristol who has been taken into a hospice today.
Francis had wanted to go with his friends to the Tomorrowland Festival in Belgium in July but we hadn’t been able to get tickets and just as I was calling him in February to let him know and ask him what he would like instead he told me he had relapsed and the outlook wasn’t good. Francis had been treated for bowel cancer.
Despite further cycles of chemotherapy and emergency surgery 9 days ago, there is nothing more the doctors can do for him. His father sounded devastated on the phone and I feel that I could cry. Life’ so unfair sometimes.
Throughout this time Francis hadn’t been able to think of anything else he would like, probably because he didn’t feel well, so this may well be one of those occasions when the child doesn’t get their dream.