CHILDREN First Foundation is hosting an open day at its Kilmore East retreat on Sunday to celebrate 20 years in operation.

For the past 20 years the foundation has enabled more than 400 disadvantaged children from 32 developing countries to receive life-changing surgery, which was unavailable in their home countries.

The event, from noon to 4pm at its property at 190 Saunders Road, will feature activities throughout the day including a barbecue, face painting, a hobby farm and more.

Chief executive officer Elizabeth Lodge said the open day promised to be fun for the whole family and a great opportunity to see what the foundation does.

“Our open day is a chance for the community to come together and join our children, volunteers, staff and supports for a day of fun and entertainment for the whole family,” Ms Lodge said.

“It’s a great opportunity to see first-hand what we do at Children First Foundation.

“This year we are also celebrating 20 years of giving ‘small lives big hope’ [and] it was 20 years ago that our retreat was built in Kilmore – the open day is a wonderful way for us to celebrate this milestone with local community.”

Pre and post-surgery care takes place at the retreat in Kilmore, formerly known as the “farm”.

Care is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a team of staff and volunteers, which also includes physiotherapists and other allied health professionals donating their time to ensure rehabilitation and recovery programs are followed to maximise outcomes from the surgery.

Volunteer teachers also provide home schooling and educational activities for the children throughout their stay.

Currently, there are seven children receiving treatment at the retreat from four different countries – Zambia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

One of the children is nine-year-old Doris from the Solomon Islands.

Three years ago her dress caught on fire and she suffered severe burns from her leg to her torso.

The burn healed by contraction leaving the skin tightened and Doris was unable to attend school due to limited mobility.

She received some surgery in the Solomon Islands, however the remaining treatment was not available in that country.

Gold coin donations will be requested on the day to support the work of Children First Foundation. Visitors can contact 0418 877 731 on the day for directions.

People can also register their interest on Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/727068954454564/.

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