When Rosa Monckton gave birth to her daughter Domenica, who has Down syndrome, she had no idea what to do.
Monckton looked to one of her close friends, the late Princess Diana, for support.
“She said, ‘You just have to believe in her,’” Monckton said in this week’s edition of PEOPLE. “She said, ‘Believe in her, love her and I’ll be there every step of the way.’ She already had that vision of what Domenica could become, which I simply couldn’t see.”
The late princess was named Domenica’s godmother shortly after her birth. According to Monckton, Princess Diana “was a huge encouragement.”
“She came with me to appointments. She was very much by my side,” she said.
Diana told Monckton about Chicken Shed, a performing arts theatre company in London. Domenica eventually attended the theatre for three years.
Domenica is now 21 and fulfilling the vision Diana had for her. She is the inspiration for Team Domenica, a charity that her mother set up to help young adults with learning disabilities gain experience in the workplace. The charity is focused on teaching life skills and relies on partnerships of local businesses to help participants get jobs.
“She’s always going to be vulnerable, she’s never going to be able to live on her own,” Monckton said of Domenica. “Each step of the way is a battle, frankly for all parents.”
Domenica works in a cafe set up by Team Domenica in Brighton, England. Her mother is hoping to take the charity to other cities in the U.K. soon.
Monckton needs $370,000 a year to expand. So far, she has raised $730,000.
“I can’t think of anything that is needed more to protect and look after this incredibly vulnerable group of people,” she said. “If someone believes in you, then you believe in yourself.”