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The Just Because Foundation
I am Chevaughn Joseph, President and Co-Founder of the Just Because Foundation. However, today I address you primarily in my most important role- being a mother.
After several years of trying, I became a mother at the age of 32 to a beautiful baby girl RaVen J'Nay Joseph. Having had a very difficult pregnancy and delivery it was our decision not to have any more children. RaVen was perfect and exactly what I had prayed for. Motherhood was great! I loved being a parent and believed I was excellent at it. When RaVen was 4 we got pregnant with our 2nd child and our beautiful baby boy Jabez 'JB' Joseph joined our little family. Feeling like a pro and loving every minute of it, it was our decision to have a 3rd child when JB turned 4. However, six months before his fourth birthday JB was diagnosed with Alevolar Rhabdomysocarcoma, a rare form of Childhood Cancer.
This gut wrenching news not only devastated us as parents but our faith as individuals was also challenged and tested. Our dreams and hopes for ourselves and for our children were replaced with fear and apprehension.
Instead of continuing to plan for our third child, we focused on caring for JB and doing whatever was humanly possible to make him better. We gratefully took up an opportunity to go to England for his major surgery and were lucky enough to experience and learn about many medical and support services for children with cancer and their families. Unfortunately, JB's illness became progressively worse.
One day in early March 2007 we went to feed the homeless at Woodford Square. JB's body was then riddled with cancer and he had to lie at the back of the car while Noel and RaVen, then nine shared sandwiches and juices. He was thrilled to hear the stampede of feet and the many voices saying thank you for such simple meal. Just as they were finished sharing he sat up and exclaimed, “WOW Mom! This is so cool, I want to do this for the rest of my life.”
JB passed 3 weeks after this joyous day, on March 24th 2007. He was just five and a half years old at the time of his passing.
In my now 53 years of life, I have never met a more remarkable person. We as mothers or guardians are supposed to be the primary teachers of our children but I am happy to say that I have learned more from my son JB more than I have learned from anyone else in my life. He taught me unconditional love, compassion, patience, kindness, courage, faith, selflessness and the ability to smile through the pain-all in the two years of his illness. I learned to attend to him, to be brave like him, and to embrace all of him.
As for my children: RaVen is now 20 and still exactly what I prayed for, she has earned an open scholarship and is studying medicine in the UK at Cardiff University, Wales. JB is my family's guardian angel, and though I know he is in a better place, I long for the day that I can feel his hug, listen to him giggling in a nearby room, hear him call my name or hold his hand. I wish for the moment when I can hear him running down a corridor calling “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,” and feel him throw himself at my legs.
As for the 3rd child we never had; God has given us the opportunity to care for and be of support to so many children and their families. It is such a privilege and I thank God everyday for the assignment he has handed us though our son Jabez, and for the legacy that would touch the lives of so many! Out of our loss and JB's beautiful soul was born the Just Because Foundation - The JB Foundation, just because he cared.
Over the last 11 years we have established the following initiatives:
The JBF Home Away From Home
The JBF Pediatric Specialty Unit
JBF Siblings Club
The JBF Hope Concert
The JBF Kiddi K: Children's Walk Against Childhood Cancer
The JBF Birthday Club
The Wishing Well
The JBF No-Smoking Tour
All of our services are provided at no cost to the families of children with cancer.
The JBF is an NGO and therefore depends on the generous monetary contributions from various entities to ensure that we can adequately supply essential support in so many ways to children with cancer and their families not only in Trinidad and Tobago but also to some children from around the Caribbean.
To those of you who are currently caring for a sick child- May God give you strength, grace and understanding. To the families who may have lost a child, know that we have specially assigned angels who are always looking down on us. The pain may never go away but God will give you the strength to go on. To the other moms and guardians, time goes by so quickly- make every moment count. Embrace the honor and privilege that has been bestowed upon you. There is no greater blessing.
We can't predict the outcome for the children we support, but together we CAN continue to make a difference.
In our JBF logo we use the Teddy Bear, a symbol of love, care and comfort. It epitomizes what we do as we continue to nurture the children of the Just Because Foundation. It is what we should all do on a daily basis whether they are our biological children or children in our care. As someone who has survived what I could describe as a mother's worst nightmare, I am humbled by the fact that a personal tragedy has turned into something absolutely beautiful! Though not always easy, God has given us the grace to continue day after day.
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