An eight-year-old boy from east London who cared for his terminally ill mum for three years was commended for his selflessness at the Diana Award ceremony, shortly before the first anniversary of her death.
Kajus Vaivadas was only five when his mum, Ingrida, was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. As Ingrida’s condition worsened, Kajus carried on caring for her every day at their Forest Gate home while attending nearby St Peter and Paul’s Catholic Primary School.
Tragically, Ingrida died one year ago this week at the age of 49, on November 1, 2016.
Kajus was nominated for the Diana Award, which is given out in Princess Diana’s name to young role models who selflessly transform the lives of others, by staff at Barnardo’s Indigo Young Carers Project in Ilford, which continues to support Kajus as he comes to terms with life without his mum.
Barnardo’s Project Worker Alison Connolly went with Kajus and his family to the Diana Award ceremony at Barclays headquarters in Canary Wharf on October 13.
They were joined by a former neighbour of Kajus and Ingrida, who described how the young boy would often help prepare food for his mum, who was weak from her illness, while also giving her medication and helping to clean the home.
Alison said: “Kajus’s neighbour said his mum would have been incredibly proud and happy for him to receive this award, because she loved him so very deeply. I felt so proud and privileged to be there, it was wonderful and truly inspirational.
“Kajus is an exceptional boy. He brought so much joy to his mum’s life and gave her a reason to battle her condition. It was just the two of them in the house and Kajus did everything he could to help, never complaining that he couldn’t enjoy the things his friends could.
“Kajus is now learning to live without his mum, and his attitude to life is an inspiration to everyone who meets him. He is so cheerful, friendly and helpful, and through the Barnardo’s Young Carers group he offers positive support to many other young children who are experiencing what he has been through.”
Kajus is now living with his father and he continues to support other children who face similar situations in Redbridge by helping out at Barnardo’s fortnightly young carers’ club.
Kajus said: “I loved looking after my mum and I really miss her. I just like helping other children like me so they don’t feel that they’re on their own.”
Lynn Gradwell, Director of Barnardo’s in London, said: “Kajus is an inspiration to all our young carers, staff and volunteers alike and we’re so pleased that his positivity and kindness to others have been recognised with a Diana Award. It feels especially poignant on the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, with Prince Harry and Prince William having spoken out about the emotional impact of losing their mum.”
Young people who would like to find out more about how Barnardo’s supports young carers can visit www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/young_carers