THE common thread of seeing their children battle cancer prompted one father to answer another’s plea.
When Mike McNaughton, head of the Kelston Motors group, read about Andre Ferreira’s plea to get his son, Donovan, 22, a much-needed apprenticeship, he did not hesitate to help.
“My daughter fought a battle with cancer so as a parent I could immediately relate. I saw her struggle and the letter touched me. It impressed me that he wasn’t looking for a handout, just a chance to prove himself,” McNaughton, who employed Donovan as an IT assistant, said.
Ferreira was frustrated that his son, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, could not follow his dreams as every course he applied to required previous experience. He decided to write a letter to The Herald in an attempt to get him a position where he could gain this experience.
“Who would not want to employ someone absolutely free, on a short-term basis, just to give him an opportunity?” he asked.
Ferreira said that although they were willing to pay for his studies at Bay institutions, they were blocked at every turn with all kinds of illogical reasons.
“Does someone wishing to study medicine have to shadow a doctor for a period to be accepted into medical school, does an aspirant lawyer have to do the same?” the frustrated father asked.
He said his son was tremendously gifted in hands-on technical areas but was being held back due to academic performance beyond his control.
“Three-and-a-half years of gruelling chemotherapy, radiation, injections, lumber punctures and many weeks of hospitalisation has made him mentally stronger than most.
“But as a result of his illness he struggled to complete all of the academic expectations,” he said.
Ferreira’s heart-wrenching letter in the paper prompted companies to come forward, offering to help Donovan.
“There were three companies willing to take a chance on me and I jumped at the first one,” Donovan said. The first chance was offered by McNaughton.
“We gave him a trial in the IT department and were very impressed. He took the opportunity with both hands. It has been a win-win as we have a very capable worker and he has the chance to prove himself,” McNaughton said.