The distraught mother of three-year-old girl Zeinobiyah, who tragically drowned after falling off the family’s boat earlier this month, admitted that the devastating ordeal has left her angry, heartbroken, sad, sick and feeling beaten as she claimed the family are now struggling not to wind up homeless.
Rebecca Soetekouw wrote on the family’s blog Our Round The World Adventure on Sunday, saying they can no longer call Sumbawa – the family’s seven-metre boat which they’ve been living on for the past two years – home after child services deemed the houseboat too small.
“Child services won’t let us move back onto Sumbawa,” she wrote. “They have deemed it too small. So now we have lost the only place that we called home for the last two and a half years.”
The mother of 11 went on to revealed that the family were then told they had four weeks to fix the boat or “she would be seized on us”.
She continued: “Then we would have to pay $5,500 to get her back or she would be destroyed. All our choices had been taken away from us, as well as our daughter.”
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In loving memory of Zeinobiyah Soetekouw. Vibrant and cheeky little love. 17/5/16 – 9/7/19 This week has been one of great sadness and community solidarity. As you may have heard, three-year-old Zeinobiyah, Beccie and Steve’s second youngest child of eleven, drowned in a tragic accident on Tuesday. I have been documenting the Soetekouw’s and their life aboard Sumbawa for the last year and I know that many of you have been following along with their journey. As you can understand, this has been a very difficult time for the family. They have shown enormous bravery in the wake of their heartache. They are extremely grateful for all of the support, and also just need some privacy to grieve at the moment. I have set up a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral and welfare costs. If you would like to make a donation, please click on the link in my bio. #sumbawapride
Rebecca said she can’t help but get angry at the situation, angling part of the blame at the government, herself and even at her late daughter Zeinobiyah.
“If she hadn’t of died, none of this would have happened,” she wrote. “WHY DID IT HAVE TO HAPPEN? THIS ISN’T FAIR!”
Zeinobiyah was reportedly playing with her siblings on the boat near the town of Brooklyn, north of Sydney, when she fell into the water. The young girl – one of the youngest of 11 siblings – was transported to Westmead hospital in Sydney in a critical condition but was sadly pronounced dead after arriving.
The mother said the family, who also own a house in Tasmania which is rented out, have been living in emergency housing for the last three weeks, adding they now have to move out.
And now the family have been left with no option but to return to Tasmania, despite that not being what they want, a step which the mother described as “going backwards”.
“We haven’t had anytime to just sit and grieve,” she continued. “We haven’t had anytime to just bond as a family, and talk about our life now.
“We haven’t had anytime, to find ourselves now – in any way. This is not what we wanted.”
Meanwhile, photographer Alex Vaughan, who has been following the family’s journey for the last year and paid tribute to the young girl on social media earlier this month, has since setup a GoFundMe page to help cover welfare costs, which has raised $6,385 for the family, at the time of publication.