A Lacombe girl is eager to do her part in helping make a profound difference on the other side of the world.
This past May, Kalista Ziakris, 7, raised $600 to buy 60 canes for children at the Kabul Blind School in Afghanistan. She accomplished this by baking and selling cupcakes, and selling her own stuffed animals in her community.
Kalista, who begins Gr. 2 at College Heights Christian School this fall, had asked Eric Rajah, founder of the Lacombe-based humanitarian organization A Better World, for project ideas.
She used her allowance to buy ingredients for the cupcakes, and the Lacombe Co-op donated containers for the cupcakes.
Kalista then got to work baking the cupcakes (with a bit of help from her mom, her grandmother and her aunt) and selling them at her school garage sale. She even donated her own stuffed animals to be sold.
“We did most of it in the evening. We baked all of them before, and then iced all of them in the evening.” At the garage sale, she set up a table with a sign that said ‘Cupcakes for Canes.’
She knew the fundraiser would be a hit, and she was right.
“I was sure people would want to buy them, because who doesn’t want cupcakes?”
Raising money to help make those in impoverished nations is not new to Kalista. Last year she organized a project to buy shoes for children in Kenya for Christmas.
“I got some of my family and friends, neighbours and cousins and they all got new shoes,” she explains of how the drive unfolded. “We also bought two pairs that were my size and then my cousins bought some that were sizes just a little bit higher.”
When asked why she takes on these kinds of projects, Kalista explains that “We in Canada have a better place then they do, and they need a place like we have.”
She also has a little brother Steven with special needs, and seeing him go through so much has also given Kalista a desire to help others and ease their suffering. Steven is four years old, and the children’s mother Ronda said her son struggles with developmental delays.
He’s also had numerous health issues including heart surgery, added Kalista. Her brother’s health issues have clearly had an impact. She has a clearer understanding of what some people in the world go through not just in terms of survival but also when they lack medical help.
“I know that he needs extra equipment, so I know what it’s like.”
Ronda said she and her husband Loney couldn’t be more proud of their little visionary.
“She’s a soft-hearted girl to begin with,” said Ronda. “And the projects are at her initiative; her saying ‘What can I do next – help me find the next thing’. She’s an awesome kid.
“She would also notice children around her. She would talk about blessings that we have that they don’t have.”
Meanwhile, Kalista’s recent efforts have also inspired others to get involved.
Along with her 60 canes, there are also 100 slates (Braille notebooks), 200 stylus, 85 more canes, and five boxes of Braille thermoform paper to be shipped to the blind school.
Azalea Lehndorff, organizer of the fundraiser ‘Freedom Run 5000’ is collaborating with the Canadian Embassy and the Canadian Military Police in Kabul to arrange the shipment of these goods.
Meanwhile, Kalista doesn’t only want to continue to plan projects to help children overseas. She’s like to visit some of these countries, such as Kenya, and see firsthand what other children face.
“Probably next year when I’m in Grade three.”
For more information, check out www.a-better-world.ca.