Super star Jade McAfee maybe with the angels but her legacy still continues to warm the hearts of the local community.
Since her death in July last year, the Stranocum teenager has continued to inspire others to hold fundraising events in her memory and raise vital funds for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hopsice. However earlier this month Jade’s mum and dad, Debbie and Mark, decided to give something back by donating their little girl’s beloved bath to the Smiles Foundation.
Debbie explained: “Jade suffered with a neurological disorder for most of her life. However she just loved her bath, it gave her a sense of freedom and relaxation. It was the one thing that Jade loved most. I would always bathed her, it was our personal, mother/daughter, girlie time together. Sometimes Faith, her sister, would help and we would get all the smellies out and pamper her. Jade’s face would light up and I owe the bath for bringing us so much joy and happy memories. However after Jade’s death, we didn’t use it anymore and both Mark and I made the tough decision to give it to Smiles Foundation in Romania.”
Earlier this month Jade’s bath, which adjusted in height and had full hydro spar facilities, was taken and shipped to Romania.
“Taking the bath out of our home broke my heart,” continued Debbie. “It was one of the hardest and most upsetting things to remove of all Jade’s equipment. It was a part of me and Jade as we had so many happy personal times together. I cried hard over it going but I knew Jade would want us to let other children, who have nothing, get the same joy out of it as she did. Seeing it drive away, I was lost for words. However it was a rich reward to know that it was on a new journey.”
A charity close to the McAfee family heart, The Smiles Foundation and the Romanian community offered them support and prayers when they needed it the most.
Debbie explained: “At Jade’s funeral, our minister’s wife Honour was in Romania and she sent us a message and picture of a group of Romanian people praying for us. Seeing it just broke my heart, these people had very little but they were still praying for our family. I knew I would one day give them something back - once I had the strength. I’ve since made a promise to myself, and to Jade, that someday I will go out to Romania and see the joy her bath is giving back to the Romanian community.”
Barbara Morrison, Development Ambassador for The Smiles Foundation added; “When I heard that Deborah wanted to do something with Jade’s bath, I contacted her immediately. I sensed almost as soon as we spoke that this move to Romania seemed right. Deborah’s willingness to share something of Jade’s life to make a difference to other children is so humbling.
“In Romania, Smiles have been working on a joint facility of love for five years. Phase 1 opened in 2013 which is focusing on Elderly Care. Phase 2 is about to open for children and adults with special needs. This beautiful facility includes a sensory room, hydrotherapy pool, sensory garden and now Jade’s bath.
“The truck arrived on Wednesday and I’m delighted that Jade’s bath is in its new home, where it will bring so much joy and pleasure.”
“Our children coming in to our home will never have been in such a place, or ever have been in such a bath never mind all the other facilities we will have for them to enjoy. Many of their homes do not even have running water.
“This facility has been build and equipped by the hard work and commitment of our volunteers through fundraising, donations and helping while on mission trips when we have been involved in moving soil, carrying blocks, sifting sand, laying paving, cleaning and painting.
“We praise God for this wonderful opportunity, and pray that through the work in this new home and many of the other Smiles projects, we will share His love and compassion with His people in Romania.
“I will be at the special opening next week and will be working in this facility with a team from NI and across UK. I look forward to seeing Jade’s bath in place and sharing some special pictures with Deborah, Mark and the kids. We appreciate their love, and willingness to bring joy to many other children.”