Kelly Makiha is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Healthy Valencia goes back to school

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BACK AND BETTER: Valencia Davies and her mother, Ene Mikaere, are rapt the 9-year-old is back at school this week. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
BACK AND BETTER: Valencia Davies and her mother, Ene Mikaere, are rapt the 9-year-old is back at school this week. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

After nearly three months of fighting a rare skin condition that nearly cost her her life, Rotorua's Valencia Davies is back at school.

The 9-year-old Owhata Primary School pupil returned to school on Monday, the first time she's been well enough to go since getting Stevens-Johnson Syndrome in August.

The skin condition, which can be life-threatening, attacked her body causing painful sores and she spent several weeks in Waikato and Rotorua hospitals. At her worst, she wasn't able to breathe properly and had to be fed via a tube.

After initially being released from hospital at the start of last month, she suffered a set back about three weeks ago and was put in hospital again when her ulcers and sores started to return.

However, her mother, Ene Mikaere, told the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday her daughter was now doing great.

"She's out of hospital and back at school, her first day back was Monday and she is loving it."

However, she's not over all her hurdles and the family have been warned the condition can return.

"The only problem she's having at the moment are her eyes which haven't stopped watering since she was first released from hospital. Also, her skin still hasn't fully recovered. It's still patchy so she tries to cover up as much as she can which is really sad to see."

Mrs Mikaere said Valencia was a bit wary returning to school but she was welcomed back with "lots of hugs from everyone".

However, for now the family are excited not to have any more hospital visits or follow-up appointments.

The family featured in the Rotorua Daily Post in August when a community fundraising drive was set up for them.

Mrs Mikaere had to take time off from her job at Countdown to be by Valencia's bedside and her father was made redundant with the closure of Lumbercube.

They also had to move out of their house because it was sold and given the rental property shortage, they were unable to find a new home, meaning they had to bunk down with family members.

Mrs Mikaere said Valencia had been living with her grandmother, who had returned to Rotorua from Australia to look after her. She said Valencia needed constant care and it allowed Mrs Mikaere time to go back to work and look after her other four children.

Valencia's father initially took a job in Pokeno to help make ends meet but it was too hard on the family, so he had since returned and was still job hunting.

"We haven't had any luck on finding a house, mainly because hubby hasn't had any luck with finding a job since he left the one in Pokeno. But in saying that we're just seeing how Valencia will cope at school, if she is doing well then my mum will move back to Australia and I will move into her place and have my daughter back with me full-time."

The community fundraiser, organised by Owhata Friends of the School and EBabies Early Learning Centre, raised more than $5000.

"The money raised from the fundraiser was such a big help as we were way behind in bills. But my next goal is to have my baby with me again. I miss her so much."

A Givealittle page raised more than $4000 and they were awaiting that money.

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