On June 18, 2016, Natalie and Quintin Prinsloo welcomed their 11th child Abigail to the world.
Before Natalie had given birth, Abigail had been diagnosed with a duodenal atresia which meant she would need surgery shortly after she was born. Natalie’s doctor told her that she needed to be near the IWK Health Centre in case she went into labour early.
On June 1, Quintin and Natalie said goodbye to their 10 children in Georgetown, PEI and travelled to Ronald McDonald House in Halifax where they would stay for the next six weeks.
“When I first saw the House, I thought it was really nice. I knew it would be a place to sleep but I didn’t think it would be so awesome,” says Natalie. “I am a homebody and as a mom, I was happy to have access to a kitchen with so much food available.”
The Prinsloo’s, originally from South Africa, came to Canada in 2000. After living in other provinces, they eventually settled in Georgetown, Prince Edward Island to start their own organic farm, a dream Quintin had always wanted to pursue.
In the weeks leading up to Abigail’s birth the Prinsloo’s became quite well known around Ronald McDonald House. They stayed busy in the kitchen, preparing meals and baking bread for all of the families to enjoy. Quintin even used his background in technology to repair a computer in the playroom. During this time, they really got to know the other families staying at the House.
“In a big communal area, people talk and you learn other people’s stories,” says Quintin. “Our story is an easy one. A lot of people that come here have stories tougher than ours.”
The Prinsloo’s feel that the House gives families a space where they can catch their breath and reset.
“The hospital is where the hard things happen,” says Natalie. “You come back to Ronald McDonald House at the end of the day and you think ‘ahhh, home’.”
Ronald McDonald House also made a difference in the Prinsloo’s life by offering stability and security at a time when they were apart from their children.
“Financially it was a big help,” says Quintin. “It would have cost us a fortune to stay in hotels while still running a house at home. This set up made a huge difference.”
“It really is a home-away-from-home,” adds Natalie. “It’s a joy coming here, not a burden.”