Eight-year old Grace is, according to her mother, “very tenderhearted and always has been.”
With an older brother with autism and other mental challenges, Grace has grown up aware that there are those in need of help. And when, at age 4, her father was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, it made that concept crystal clear. Her Dad had surgery, there were many months of chemo, there were times when Grace didn’t know if he would live.
As a military family separated from the support system of relatives, there was no real safety net to help when Grace’s Dad was diagnosed. On top of that, her family had just moved and a fourth child had just been born.
Grace’s mother, Brandy found a crisis Nursery near their home that could watch the three younger children for free during her husband’s treatments. Brandy, said thankfully, “they fussed over the kids, they did Grace’s hair…they made her feel safe and happy with all that was going on. (But) most of the kids there were not as lucky as ours. Most of the kids were there as the result of abuse and neglect… and that stuck with Grace.”
Since then, Grace has always wanted to help other children.
Last Spring Grace was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and wondered what kids less fortunate than she would do to treat it. She approached her mom and asked if she could do chores to earn money. When Brandy asked why, Grace piped up, “to do something nice for someone”.
As they talked more about Grace’s idea, Brandy remembered a story on CNN with Apolo Ohno speaking about his involvement with SeeYourImpact.org – the charities we work through, and how small gifts can make a big difference.
During the Olympics, Grace had been allowed to stay up late to watch Ohno race, and she became a huge fan. According to Grace, if Apolo says something is “ok,” then she knows it’s ok.
When Grace came to our website, she knew just what gift to choose. This past summer, the family had a mosquito problem, so Brandy had someone come and spray the house. Grace couldn’t understand why “we just made a call, but those kids get sick and die when they have the same problem.” She decided on a $10 insecticide-treated bednet to help protect someone from Malaria.
So Grace made a little bank out of a cardboard box for her birthday money. In November, on her birthday she got the $10 – and with the help of Brandy, she donated it on the website. On November 26th, just 10 days later, Grace received the photo of Fatmata.
Fatmata, a young girl in Sierra Leone, has a story of her own. She lives in a house with her mom and dad and two sisters, where they have no electricity. No running water for cooking or keeping clean. People in her community often see her barefoot and wearing old clothing.
Like Grace, Fatmata hopes for great things. Somedays, she can’t go to school, because her family can’t afford the fees. But she loves what she learns when she can go, especially math and social studies. And when she grows up, Fatmata wants to share what she’s learned with others, by being a teacher.
Thanks to Grace, Fatmata has a better chance of reaching that goal.
And although Grace still doesn’t completely understand why her family can call someone to take care of a mosquito problem, and others can’t, she “was excited that she got to potentially save another child’s life.”
So much so, that Grace spent her holiday vacation dog-sitting to earn money for another net.
We at SeeYourImpact.org were humbled when we heard Grace and Fatmata’s story. Every day, we have the special honor of helping people like Grace connect with people like Fatmata. Each person has their own challenges and battles, ones we don’t often hear about.
In the same way that Grace’s gift supports Fatmata’s future, Fatmata’s gift to Grace is showing her how to take her own challenges and use them to make an impact on her world.
Have you been inspired by watching a child give? Tell us your story. We’d love to share it with others.