Annalise is a mother to five beautiful boys. Unfortunately, Annalise and her children suffered from severe domestic violence. Before she was put in contact with the Magical Getaway Foundation, Annalise used to tell her boys that going to the refuge was like a holiday. Her five sons often found it difficult to make friendships with their peers, having so little in common. Annalise herself often spent her time at home, not wanting to leave the house.
“I think the kids hadn’t even been on a holiday and had been in and out of refuges. I used to tell them that that was a holiday. When other kids talked about their holidays the kids realised they were different.”
For those experiencing domestic violence, isolation can be crippling. For Annalise and her boys, the experience left them with little confidence. In 2018, we sent the Tumbas family on their first ever holiday (unfortunately her oldest son was unable to go, as he had just commenced an apprenticeship). The family was referred by their local primary school principal.
For Annalise the biggest change the holiday brought was the one seen in her sons. After the holiday, Annalise said her boys started making friends in school. For the first time they had something ‘normal’ to talk and laugh about with their peers. Prior to the holiday Annalise felt that, due to what they had experienced, she would have to fight to have respectful children for the rest of her life. Having experienced first hand the effect kindness can have on people's lives, her boys now aspire to carry that same kindness forward with them through life.
“One act of kindness has a flow on effect, I saw them become quite kind and they wanted to help other people as well. They knew how the holiday came about and they’re now very kind kids because they have had someone be kind to them.”
While taking a walk to a local coffee shop or striking a conversation with a stranger isn’t something many consider challenging, for Annalise the chance to open up and make those connections was all she needed to break her isolation. Having returned from her getaway, Annalise gained the confidence to leave the house and visit a local café. Having something as simple as a holiday to share opened a world of new connections.
“I would speak to people and talk about the holiday. From there I got work because I was out in the public eye and had a conversation with them and could get connections to get work, let people in a little, step out the door, start a conversation and feel comfortable. I didn’t want people to know who I was or where I came from. Instead I could just talk about Lorne … when I explained how the holiday came about then people were enthusiastic to know more.”
For Annalise this holiday symbolised a shift in direction. It represented the turn of a new page and gave her the hope needed for her to feel empowered again.
“Someone has given me a chance and opened a door for me. Now I have to keep going and opening doors.”
Shortly after, Annalise was offered a job through the new connections she made at the cafe, enabling her to get back on her feet. Three years later Annalise currently has two steady jobs and has been invited to join the Magical Getaway Foundation as an Advisory Board Member.
These cherished family memories, the bonding it allowed and the memories they took from it has remained a crucial safety net for the Tumbas family years later. Even now they often laugh about the memories from that holiday.
“We became a lot closer, had a lot in common as a good fall back when things weren’t going well. We could always look back and remember the holiday. … It's the memories holidays create that no one can take, going to bed laughing, saying can you believe it.”
This truly inspirational story reminds us that it’s not about the holiday but what it brings – HOPE for the future.
Annalise Tumbas - as interviewed by Anastasia Misarvidis-Tyshing
Magical Getaway Advisory Board Member
Mother to five