In 2006, a young couple shared with Shterny Dadon the heartache they suffered from struggling to have a child. After 4 years of trying they were unsuccessful and at a loss as to where to turn to for help. Shterny recalls once conversation where the wife was crying to her saying,’ I just don’t know how we can afford to keep on trying and if I even have the strength in me to go through ANOTHER round of IVF.’
She recalls thinking at that time, how is it possible that no support service existed in the community for this couple to turn to in their time of need and that money was the barrier in their ability to become parents, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. Together with a group of her friends, they hosted an event, raised the funds and paid for their IVF treatment, all in a matter of 3 weeks!
This lead to the birth of both their child and the Australian Jewish Fertility Network, known as the AJFN, which was and still is the only organisation in Sydney that provides support for couples struggling with infertility.
Since 2006, Jewish Australian couples have been approaching the AJFN for help and our role has been to provide them with both the financial and emotional support to give them the best shot at fulfilling their dream of becoming parents.
AJFN hosts one major fundraising event annually (past events have included Spa for the Soul, Theatre for the Soul, Cinema for the Soul). In 2019, we hosted Conversations for the Soul’ an sold-out evening for 300+ attendees in support for those couples struggling to fulfill their dreams of having a baby and to break the stigma surrounding the infertility struggle. Conversations for the Soul featured a stellar Celebrity Panel sharing their raw, honest and personal infertility journeys, which included Jenny Morrison, wife of the Prime Minister, Nine News presenter Peter Overton, and actress and author Mary Coustas. The event was held on Wednesday 30 October 2019 at the Chauvel Cinema Paddington and landed us front coverage in The Australian as Jenny Morrison’s story of struggling to have children struck a universal chord.
COVID restrictions forced the major event, Stories for the Soul, to be re-imagined as a completely virtual affair. Having the event online opened our audience up as well as the possible speakers we could obtain.
Internationally renowned best-selling author, eminent psychologist and Holocaust survivor, Dr Edith Eger headlined our free online event, and we showed the first chapter of our ground-breaking documentary One in Six . Over 800 people registered online, with many hosting other family and friends to watch the event together, bringing our viewing numbers to approximately 2,000 people – starting thousands of new conversations about fertility in the community as well as raising a record amount of funds for AJFN.
With thanks to our dedicated Board, skilled volunteer committees and family of supporters, the AJFN has built a strong network over the years and been able to ensure that every couple who approaches us for assistance (and fits within our granting guidelines) receives the support they need to help fulfil their dream of becoming parents.
A special mention of thanks and appreciation to Jodie Lowe-Ariel, Dorit Gerassi and Lee-Anne Whitten who over the years (2006-2016) volunteered their time and energy in ensuring AJFN’s continuous growth and impact.