South America

Girl forgoes birthday gifts to help children with cancer

Maria asked classmates to bring milk powder to be donated to Cancer Child Support Group

Bahia, Brazil | Evellin Fagundes

Is there a minimum age to exercise solidarity? The generous initiative of 7-year-old Maria Fernanda is evidence there is not. The little girl chose to celebrate her birthday by having a party with her 1st grade classmates at Itabuna Adventist College, in southern Bahia, Brazil on August 22nd. The fact would be unremarkable, if not for the theme and purpose of the celebration. Maria Fernanda gave up receiving gifts, preferring instead that her classmates bring milk powder, which would then be used for a specific purpose.

“I chose the theme ‘love harvest’ for my party because we have the great love to help children who have cancer. We can help, so I asked for this milk pack to donate to Child Support Group for Cancer (GACC),” Maria explained.

Raffaella Moutinho, Maria's mother, told us where the idea came from. “The topic of her birthday came up when were organizing her room, separating toys to donate. She said she has a lot of toys and doesn't need any more and that she could ask her friends to do something to help the GACC children instead.”

The act of selflessness caught the attention of many, including her teacher, Claudia Vivas. Used to joining the social activities promoted by the school, such as the delivery of toys to children in need, Vivas found the student's spontaneous attitude interesting. “As a teacher, I am honored to note that the values ​​taught in the classroom have been part of Maria Fernanda's experiences. It is also important to highlight the role of the family, it is always a partnership,” she said.

Planting love

GACC Sul Bahia is an institution that welcomes children and adolescents from 0 to 18 years old who come to Itabuna to receive cancer treatment. It currently serves an average of 20 families per week, covering an area of ​​more than 200 cities.

Being a nonprofit initiative, it survives on donations. According to the coordinator of the House, Juliana Silva, every donation is important. She explains care goes beyond providing shelter to families, “The demand is not only from the nursing home, but we also assist in feeding hospital patients and their caregivers. And in specific cases, we help with basic baskets,” she explained.

On September 5, with the support of the College, Maria Fernanda, along with her parents and colleagues, went to GACC and delivered the milk powder packages. “It's a very beautiful action, especially when it comes from a child,” said Silva.  “It shows that she already has an excellent social conscience. We know what these families go through and we know that these donations will make a difference. They will be very grateful.”

Happily, Raffaella says empathy is a characteristic of her daughter. “At the beginning of the year we lost a beloved aunt to cancer and it stirred her. Maria says she will be a medical scientist to find a cure for many diseases,” she explained. “She is very sensitive and when she sees needy people, she moves to help in some way, asking for support from me and her grandparents. As parents, we are happy to see our daughter with a willing heart to help others. ”


This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site