Onessa and Jaroume live in Hackney with their eight year old son Elijah, who is diagnosed with myotubular myopathy and needs round-the-clock care. The family recently had their garden transformed for an episode of the show Love Your Garden.
Prior to the makeover, Elijah rarely left the house, as the garden was too soft to get Elijah’s wheelchair outside, so Elijah’s godmother nominated the family for a garden makeover. Onessa and Jaroume had taken a day off from work as they were expecting someone from the show to arrive to assess their garden but instead, the shows presenter Alan Titchmarsh arrived at the door.
Onessa says “I was very emotional, Elijah had just come out of intensive care a week before that and it was the worst he’s been in his life. We thought we were going to lose him in that hospital admission. Seeing Alan Titchmarsh and the team in front of your door was like the gold at the end of a rainbow. It was like the silver lining you are waiting for, from the hard weeks it had been for all of us emotionally.”
The garden was re-designed with a holiday theme, including a beach hut seating 20, a pond, decking, a sensory corner and a kingfisher mural by London born artist Will Vibes. Onessa says “at some point a lot of people were looking from the outside in, so we invited every neighbour we have. It’s a very complex situation for anyone who has a disabled family member. Your situation isolates you from the rest of the world, if you are dealing with medical emergencies or a sick child.”
Now not only can the family spend time outside but it has helped them make new friends too. Onessa says “Now we have space for people to sit and have some fun times. It’s all about having that quality of life and being able to be out in the garden and having wonderful memories there in the comfort of your own home, when it is hard for you to get out. It’s not just a space – it’s a beautiful oasis. It’s a paradise.”