Maya Mills is in the 8th grade at Adda Clevenger Junior Preparatory School in San Francisco, CA. In June 2014, she traveled to Nicaragua to volunteer for Operation Rainbow with her mother, Dr. Karen Makely, who donates her time and talent to perform surgeries for the organization. This piece was reposted with permission from Little Pickle Press.
Since I can remember, my mom has been traveling on medical trips with a volunteer team called Operation Rainbow. I used to always ask to go with her and this year I was finally old enough to join the team on a trip to Leon, Nicaragua. I knew it would be an incredible experience to have with my mom, but I decided to get my school involved as well. Together with help from our counselor, teachers, and parents, the students from Adda Clevenger School collected gently used baby blankets, toys, and crutches.
Our annual Arts Festival was dedicated to fundraising for the project; students made get well cards and had a bake sale and balloon animal table. We raised over $900 to buy medicines and supplies for the patients in Nicaragua.
My job on the medical team was to keep our patients relaxed before surgery and comfort them afterwards. Every patient who had surgery received special attention, blankets, and toys, so they wouldn’t be frightened. There were plenty of cards and blankets left for other kids in the hospital as well.
I had an amazing experience working with the kids. I really got to see what volunteer work is like and how much good can be done by a small group of dedicated people. After returning to San Francisco, a few friends and I put together a slideshow showing the students working on the project and the effects it had on the children in Nicaragua.
The students at my school, some just five years old, were astonished at how they were each able to do something small that together could make a big impact on so many other kids. Even some of the parents said they were delighted to see their old baby blankets being used again to bring comfort to a child. I’m hopeful that our school can have a kids-helping-kids project like this every year.