“The Power of Children’s Empathy” – Success Story #06

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Children’s empathy is a strong weapon against the biggest worldwide problems. Children have this power because from a child point of view there is always a simple solution to every problem, no matter what. But in order to solve any of this, you should do only one thing — start your actions: you can’t just sit around and hope you can finish it, you actually have to go out and do it. It could be said that this moto was leading Rachel Wheeler, 9, through her journey to improve the living conditions of people in Haiti. What this little young girl has accomplished to make people‘s lives better is truly amazing.


It all has started when Rachel was only 9 years old. At that time she learned about living conditions in Haiti, where people are struggling to survive famine, have no roof over their heads and no clothes to wear. As soon as she became familiar with this situation, she visited Food For The Poor’s organization, which is an international non-profit institution helping families to get out of poverty. With her mom’s and family’s support, Rachel started to partner with Food For The Poor and established a fundraising. All funds were collected by organizing social events and bake sales, passing a donation can at homecoming games and selling homemade goods. Her kind initiative also was noticed by some recognizable organizations, such as Lighthouse Point Chamber of Commerce, which donated to Rachel‘s fund. A message about her mission was spread quite fast: her friends, as well as the local news, helped her publicize her efforts. At that time this little girl managed to raise enough money to build the first 12 homes.

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CC BY 4.0 DOIT, http://DOIT-Europe.Net, H2020–770063 Photo credits: Rachel Wheeler

In three years, when Rachel turned 12, her fund collected 250 000 dollars which were enough to build 27 small concrete homes in a Rachel‘s Village. Right, this village, which is located in Leogane, Haiti, was named after the true hero who provided people with such luxuries as beds and roof over their heads. When Rachel visited her village for the first time after that, she saw many happy faces and little children playing around. It was the greatest accomplishment she has ever had. After this success to reach her first goal, Rachel continued to pursue her mission: during Rachel’s first trip to Haiti in May 2011, she decided to build a school for the community after realizing that not all children are able to attend school. By the time she rebuilt a school which was devastated by the earthquake, so children could get their education in a proper way.

At the age of 12, she was nominated as a Huggable Hero by the Build-A-Bear Workshop. The Huggable Heroes was founded in 2004 to honor and reward young people for giving back to their communities, their schools, and our world. Right now she is about to start a new project with Food For The Poor to help children finish their school. It seems like Rachel is very serious about changing Haiti‘s people lives from the ground.

There is no doubt — Rachel is proof of how little people can make a great positive change. Once she said that “ I’ve learned that anybody, any age, can make a difference and follow their dreams.” She may not have changed the whole world yet, but she has changed the world of Haiti’s people.

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CC BY 4.0 DOIT, http://DOIT-Europe.Net, H2020–770063 Photo credits: Rachel Wheeler


The story is now available on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/doit-europe/the-power-of-childrens-empathy

by Ieva Tilindyte, European Social Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute

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CC BY 4.0 DOIT, http://DOIT-Europe.Net, H2020-770063