One local girl is aiming to make a difference by donating money she received from her birthday to help women in Somalia.
Ella Parcels, 11, is following in Amanda Lindhout’s footsteps and has donated money to the local chapter of the Global Enrichment Foundation, an organization which Lindhout founded. The local and founding chapter of GEF, called Bringing Relief; Inspiring Through Education (B.R.I.T.E.) began earlier this year.
“I raised money for my birthday instead of getting presents. I asked all of my friends to give me some money for B.R.I.T.E. and I raised $215,” she said. “I had learned about Amanda and I really wanted to help so I heard that you could fundraise and I thought that was a good way to help her.”
The Grade 6 student at Eastview Middle School decided to donate to the Hoops for Hope program that Lindhout runs through GEF.
The money Parcels donated will go towards sponsoring one young woman to play basketball in Mogadishu, the capital city in Somalia. The cost to sponsor one woman to play on the team is $250, so Parcels’ mom, Doreen, helped her with the remainder.
Ella will have a connection with the young woman she is sponsoring in Somalia and will get a picture of her and a matching bracelet to the one the woman will be given as well.
Ella’s birthday was last fall but she just donated the money to B.R.I.T.E last week.
Ella first heard about Lindhout after she was captured in Somalia in 2008 for over 15 months while she was working as a journalist in that country.
Ella had decided she wanted to write a letter to the government explaining how much she cared about Lindhout and urged them to do everything they could to help her. She also asked her friends to do a letter campaign to the Canadian government. She wrote a speech and called her campaign ‘Kids Caring for Amanda’. A few days before she launched her campaign, Lindhout was freed.
Ella hopes others will also support the cause.
“I’m hoping to ask other kids to try and get their birthday money and put it towards stuff like this.”
She hopes to continue to raise funds through raffles, bake sales, a 30-hour famine and bottle drives.
“When I was six my parents were divorced and when I was 10 my mom got cancer. Amanda taught me not to just crinkle up in a ball and be sad about what’s happened to me, but to help other kids and just try to help others in the world,” said Ella.
Doreen said she is proud of her daughter.
“She’s a very kind little girl. And when Amanda was being held in Somalia, Ella would ask almost every day if I had heard anything and she wondered what was happening. She was quite excited about the campaign she was going to launch. It was exciting for our family when we found out Amanda had been freed. We cried because we had been praying for Amanda,” she said.
Meanwhile, B.R.I.T.E. launched in Red Deer this past January. Emily Falk, president of B.R.I.T.E. said the group is currently fundraising and creating awareness for GEF.
“We heard Amanda speak in 2009 when she was at the College and it changed our lives forever,” she said. “I did a couple of fundraisers with the basketball team I was coaching and did a couple of bike trips to raise money. And then Amanda thought we should start something in Red Deer because it’s her hometown and people are really receptive here.”
The group has been busy fundraising. In February they held a bake sale that raised over $1,100 and they have done a couple of bottle drives.
“We are also planning on doing movie nights, dances and charity concerts.”
Karlie Bauman, member of the B.R.I.T.E. team said they have also been out in the community trying to get the word out.
“We’ve been to community events just to let people know that we’re here,” she said.
For more, check out B.R.I.T.E.’s facebook page.