Precocious, principled. A kid who forever changes you with her exuberance and sunshine smile. She will rally a whole school behind her cause. She will give you your change, even if it is just one cent. She will save the world.
She is Abi.
Her world and the Philippines collided because of Haiyan.
Her sheet, a tablecloth which carries with it all good wishes, spoke of all that she and her friends had done, their good wishes, Canada’s good wishes.
Their message: You are not alone.
Abi, Cailin and Sophia
Abigail “Abi” Blyth, Sophia Trainor and Cailin McIntrye came to me, leaping and bouncing, excited for a photo shoot and an interview, a first in their 8-year old lives.
We were at the playground of their school, Ecole Jules Quesnel, their mothers—Sian Blyth (Abi’s mum), Kristie Trainor (Sophia’s mum) and Caroline McIntrye (Cailin’s mum)—looking on, proud and beaming.
They told me how it all began.
“It was Abi’s idea,” Sophia and Cailin chorused.
“I kind of just thought of it,” Abi answered.
The three knew all about Haiyan, saw it on TV, saw the people affected by it, the devastation, the loss. They could not yet fully fathom the gravity of the situation, but they felt it and thought they had to do something.
“I was kind of just thinking, how many people have lost their homes? How many people have lost their loved ones? How many families have lost their families?” said Abi.
The girls talked about what they could do and thought about doing a bake sale to raise funds for the victims of Haiyan. Their school allowed the three girls to go from room to room to make the announcement and the plea.
Abi even wrote a speech, which the three girls shared.
The girls also thought a memento would be apt and carried with them a sheet that they asked everyone to sign.
“But not the kindergartners,” Cailin disclosed. “They were a little too young. They might, like, doodle on it and stuff like that. We don’t like people’s names scratched out by kindergartners.”
“And then we signed it ourselves after everyone at school signed it and we went and decorated it at my house. We wrote a message that said, ‘Best wishes for Christmas’,” said Abi.
The girls are hoping the sheet can be sent to the Philippines.
“It can be used to cover up a wall in someone’s house or used as a bedspread. I did it with Sophia and Cailin just to tell some kids from the other side of the world that some kids were thinking of them,” said Abi.
“The bake sale was pretty successful,” the three chorused.
They each baked cookies—icing decorated, M&M and oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies. Other parents pitched in. They made $80.
This was topped up by Abi’s parents to $150 then they went to the bank, where they were told it is doubled because of the “matching” announced by the federal government. The girls are ecstatic. They donated all the proceeds to the Canadian Red Cross.
What was hard about the experience?
The three revealed, referring to the sheet, “Apart from trying to get the grade 2s not to sign their names twice, none.”
We laughed, then turned poignant.
“It’s pretty good, feels really great. [We are] just excited that we got to help people and that people know that people are thinking of them,” said Abi.
We talked about their messages to the victims.
” I hope they get better and the money that we sent to them is used for good and there’s no more hurricanes or storms and people are more happy,” said Cailin.
“We haven’t forgotten you. We’re still thinking of you,” said Sophia.
“Some kids in the world, not just the Red Crosses, are trying to help you. Some kids are actually trying to do something for you,” said Abi.
Their sheet is en route to the Philippines via Carlo Figueroa, Public Affairs Officer of the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines. With it are their hopes and their good wishes.