Lebanon, Indiana … The email was addressed to the Malawi Project, and it came from a 9-year-old in Southern Florida. Gabriela had observed the plight of the Malawi people who must carry, use, and store medicines without the aid of medicine bottles. Taken for granted in the U.S. and other developed nations the pill container for safe storage was something few could obtain. It seemed unusual for a 9-year-old to find this need challenging, and more unusual was the fact she indicated she had set a goal of 1,000 pill containers. Suzi Stephens, a co-founder of the Malawi Project who met with Gabriela and her mother in Florida earlier in the year makes this observation.”
“With the success of the Kids-Helping-Kids program we have learned to take young people seriously. Gabriela is a real inspiration to us. She has a real desire to do something that helps change the world. Kids take up causes and reach goals that older people think are impossible. We’ll support a determined young person every time they offer us their support.”
During the pill collection campaign, it didn’t take long to realize supporting Gabriela was the right thing. She easily reached the goal, and in so doing helped inspire and contribute to the most successful program to obtain a single item in the history of the Malawi Project. Before the pill container program ended, and the Project stopped collecting and sending them to Malawi over 4 million pill containers had been received.
In late 2022 Gabriela wrote again. She had seen the campaign for pencils for school children in Malawi and was ready to take up the challenge yet again. She reminded the reader of her earlier efforts.
“A few years back when I was in 3rd grade, I did a project where I collected almost one thousand pill bottles to send to Malawi. When I saw this email, I immediately thought of how a small child, not even 10 years old, could take the initiative and collect that many pill bottles to support a good cause, then why can’t I, older, more mature, and a smarter, better student can’t do that again.”
This time, “older, more mature, smarter, and a better student,” at the age of she would solicit help from her classmates, teachers, school officials, local businesses, pencil manufactures, and from her parents. She made posters, collection boxes, phone calls, email, and letter communication. The result has been a total collection of 25,000 pencils. Again, Gabriela has broken a record, the record for the most pencils collected for Malawi.
Pictured left to right: Suzi Stephens, Medical Director for the Malawi Project, and Gabriela.