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The Cherished Child

Updated: Apr 5

 ( Founder/Trustee Community Action Trust)
Tracey Jane Bell ( Founder/Trustee Community Action Trust)

I first met Lauren in Johannesburg over 20 years ago. She walked into the room we were spending the weekend with just the biggest smile on her face. As I proceeded to get dressed she sat on the corner of my bed and just watched me. We chatted best we could and somehow understood each other, because that’s what happens when both vessels are open to love and acceptance.  After a few minutes, she decided that we were firm friends and left the room with not so much as a by your leave .. lol. I was left with a few moments of reflection of how in a few seconds this beautiful person had her life irreversibly changed and how as the years passed she would have to learn to live with what appeared to be an insurmountable hill of so many physical and emotional challenges. My thoughts though were filled with the one question that so many find so difficult to ask themselves. “ What can I do to help?”   Not just Lauren but others like her. I made a promise that day I would do exactly that. It has taken 2 decades but God has his own timing for things of his calling. This year 2024, The Cherished Child was born under the Community Action Trust banner. And so our journey begins….  

Lauren Ceri Stewart

Born 14th February 1987

Harare Zimbabwe

Her story ( as penned by her dad John Stewart )

Lauren Stewart Patron The Cherished Child

“Valentine’s day seemed like a great day to end my 9 months of confinement. However, a few things did not go according to plan. The usual Gynaecologist was away and nursing staff couldn’t properly fit the usual vital signs monitors. Worst of all, the umbilical cord around my neck was choking the life out of me. The nursing staff sadly were indifferent and showed no appetite for any emergency procedures once I was born.

I went on to learn almost as much as the average student, and lived a happy, relatively normal life, barring the severe seizures that began plaguing me from 3 months old. They worsened throughout the years with an initial “unknown cause” diagnosis, to finally being labelled Lennox Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) at age 11years. Described as one of 4 rare known forms of drug resistant, difficult to control types of epilepsy at the time. It was not unusual to experience upwards of 10 – 20 severe Grand Mal seizures, and upwards of 100 Petit Mal seizures per day.

God has richly blessed me with a small group of exceptional champions who pray for me, love me unconditionally and who believe in miracles. The majority are friends who came into my life in different ways. My life has a purpose and destiny. I am a voice for the voiceless.I teach peace, patience, love, unconditional forgiveness, compassion, empathy. I find it possible to smile despite all that has happened to me.I am resilient, patient, strong in spirit, kind and generous. Adversity visited me the day I was born and has never stopped pursuing me to this day.  Why have so many of us been faced with some form of spiritual, neuro and physical challenge/s?

Lauren Ceri Stewart with (Dad) John Stewart

Mental unwellness is a pandemic.  

The prognosis in my first month in this life journey, was that I would never learn to do anything. Well, against all odds, I beat this prognosis to a pulp. I’ve had just about every medication, supplement, and diet to combat uncontrolled seizures. Unnecessary operations and injuries that would’ve made a seasoned soldier flinch with pain and agony. And here I am, still standing, smiling, forgiving and loving. I’ve experienced the eruption of a pain threshold that arose from average to superhuman, with all the blood samples, injuries, operations and of course, there’s the pain of rejection. When one hears the cliché it sounds too good to be true, then mine must be “it doesn’t sound possible that it could’ve been that bad.”

This world is so filled with war and poverty, isms of every kind, illnesses of every kind, pollution and corruption to name but a few, and yes, oh yes!! Rights of every kind. I know that God in His infinite wisdom will continue to use my life as an example to help many to understand that practicing social indifference and injustices of any kind is so fundamentally wrong. Much education is needed to weed out the unkind thinking associated with the descriptions and descriptors, language and institutions, when referring to “these” people. Pause for a minute and ask yourself, “Who are these people?”We, who are dependent on all around the world to help us live our best lives.

I invite you to take some time out of your busy lifestyle and discover that deep in your soul, there is compassion, empathy and caring. Find someone that needs a friend, look into the eyes of this wounded soul, and smile your way into their heart. Your smile and look, may be the first time someone has “seen” the soul within, and tried to figure out the true essence of this souls being. My message to the world; With God all things are possible. It costs nothing to show love, compassion and empathy. Words can heal and hurt, so choose them carefully and wisely. Speak life into every situation with every Chance you get, the Choice is yours, do the right thing and see the beautiful Change it brings. My life is so blessed to be connected with soul friendships that have kept arriving ……..

Being nominated as one of the patrons of the Cherished Child by my “Auntie” Tracey Jane Bell and the Community Action Trust, comes from one such friendship and a promise made more than 21 years ago. May God continue to richly bless you Auntie Trace, with oodles more of peace, love, joy, happiness, compassion and empathy, and all that He has birthed in your spirit to accomplish your purpose and destiny. For anyone interested to learn more. One day we’ll meet at one of my “Lauren’s Voice” events. My purpose and destiny.

Much love, Lauren – The Valentine Lady

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