Hello everyone. My name is Sharon and I am a friend of the Zavelev Avila family. They are going through a really tough time, because they lost their main source of income and are in danger of losing their home. They are also deeply in debt because of some serious medical issues a family member had. Those issues required surgery and constant care for life. They have a young daughter who has Down’s Syndrome, she is a happy and outgoing child and most of their troubles are caused by not being able to give her the life she deserves.
Here’s their story, in their words:
We are the Zavelev family, and we have a 7-year-old daughter, Aileen, who means the world to us.
We own a small company that provides services to real-estate developers, helping them review their compliance with regulations.
Like most Chileans, our life was radically changed by the social uprising of 2019. Before, we were able to live a quiet life and to pay for our daughter’s school and monthly therapy bills. Our daughter has Down Syndrome and our government does not cover any of her needs, which are quite expensive, making our bills reach 2.000 a month.
In Chile, very few schools have efficient integration programs for children with special needs and most of them are expensive. Our daughter can read and write, speak Spanish and English, is completely integrated in her school and has many friends. We are trying our best to give her a happy, carefree, and fulfilling life, like any child her age, but private school involves high costs.
Since October 2019, political instability has put the brakes on real-estate development, and we were left without our main source of income for several months. To deal with our expenses, we looked for jobs outside our comfort zone, making much less than we used to. That’s how I became a part time babysitter and my husband a factory worker, making disposable masks during the first year of the Covid outbreak. That took a hold on his mental health, which we decided to prioritize, seeking treatment for his depression, even though insurance providers in our country won’t cover long term psychiatric treatment.
To make things more complicated, my mom, who has diabetes, lost all her toes due to a bad case of ischemia that got bad enough to need an amputation. The loss of her toes limited her ability to move, and she had two major falls, causing her to break both hips, also requiring surgery. Today, after 3 interventions, our medical bills are over 150.000 USD and between that, our mortgage and our daughter’s therapies, we are currently over 300.000 USD in debt.
Our biggest concern right now is our daughter and not being able to pay for her therapy and schooling is giving us an overwhelming sensation of failing her as parents. We are under permanent threat of losing our home. To say we are terrified is an understatement.
I know it sounds like too much bad luck, but as they say, when it rains, it pours.
We want to be responsible adults and pay our debts. We live a quiet life, and we are just looking to provide for our daughter and to give her the best life she can have. Never in our lives we thought we could find ourselves in a situation like this and the chances of getting the money we owe by ourselves is quite slim. Our country is currently undergoing deep structural changes in its political institutions, so the next few years will be filled with uncertainty and, as small business owners, we see no way we can grow enough to get out if this crisis on our own.
We used to pride ourselves on the fact that we were very giving people, so now, for the first (and hopefully only) time in our lives, I am facing the need to ask for other people’s help. Please help us provide for our daughter and take care of our loved ones.