Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (December 6, 2018)
Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of working with several charities that help children and one that is close to my heart is Make-A-Wish. Just this past week, Make-A-Wish Hong Kong celebrated its 20th anniversary and also its annual Christmas celebration at the Landmark Atrium. We were joined by celebrities and loyal supporters to kick off the seasonal events.
I think children and those suffering are always on our hearts but ever more so in the holiday season. When many of us are traveling abroad, eating scrumptious meals, spending time with families near and far and enjoying the holiday cheer, some people are suffering in the holiday season due to a variety of reasons. This goes for beneficiaries of Make-A-Wish. Make-A-Wish is an international organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. When a child is faced with a critical illness and is relegated to spending days, weeks or even months in hospitals, going through tests and sterile treatments, Make-A-Wish comes alongside the child and his/her family to let their imagination run wild in choosing a once-in-a-lifetime wish.
Children have amazing creativity and they choose wishes that fall into one of five categories: To have, To meet, To be, To go and To give.
Some children choose to have something of their dreams which could be a camera to capture their favourite moments, an iPad to help them pass the days in the hospital or a birthday party for after they recover.
Some children choose to meet their idols and stars which have included Disney princesses, pop stars and sports players.
Some children choose to be something for the day and the most memorable international example is when a 6-year-old became ‘Batkid’ for the day and the city was transformed into Gotham City for him to save people.
Some children choose to go to a destination of their dreams which include traveling to Japan to visit Disneyland, to Washington to meet then President Obama and Italy to watch a football game.
And some children, most touching of all in my opinion, are the ones who choose to give. In the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they have to get something for themselves, they choose to use their wish as a way to bless others. Take Natalia as an example. A 10-year-old girl from Cincinnati who loves cooking and was battling a brain tumor. When asked what she wanted to her wish to be, it was this: to feed the hungry and keep them warm. “I always feel cold and I want to be able to give others warmth”. Her wish enabled her to cook with a chef to create a special soup recipe and then serve the soup to the homeless in one of the largest homeless shelters in her community. In addition, her wish included giving blankets to the homeless. Her kindness and selflessness warmed not only the hearts of the recipients but all those who witnessed this selfless act.
Locally, Pansy, a girl who was facing leukemia, decided to use her wish to help other children in China who were facing the same illness as her. She wanted to recruit volunteers to create bracelets with her and the sale of those would be to support children in China with cancer. With 100 volunteers supporting her, they created over 400 bracelets which were sold out in a flash and a substantial amount was raised to be donated.
These children, going through possibly the most difficult time of their lives, decided to give. To give to others. To give to bring others joy. As we step into the festive Christmas season, are we also choosing to give? Let’s make this season truly about giving and bringing joy to others and be inspired by these Make-A-Wish children who have chosen to share the joy of a wish.
* Make-A-Wish Hong Kong has a charity sales booth at Landmark from now until the end of the year. Visit the stall and share the joy of making a wish come true!*