It Starts With Bailey

Written by Lizzy McCormack

Many people believe that they alone are not able to help make a difference in the world. 10-year-old Bailey knew that he had the power to make a change, challenging the theory that one person can’t make a difference.Bailey is a 10-year-old boy in Queensland who is currently empowering three Cambodian girls to have access to an education.

Bailey and his Mum first joined our Free To Shine family in our 2014 Run For a Reason campaign, where they successfully raised $510 to help us enroll new girls onto our program. Bailey soon decided that he could do more. Instead of enrolling more girls, he made the commitment that he wanted to become an ongoing sponsor. With the help of his Nana, he started selling chocolate crackles and cards to his family, friends and staff at school to help him achieve this goal.Bailey enrolled his first girl in May 2015. Excitement and anticipation filled the house as he waited at the mailbox everyday for his very first Sponsor Pack to arrive. When it finally arrived, six days later, Bailey was troubled to read that the family had expensive medical bills, which they were struggling to pay. Since he had raised an extra $121 in his quest to raise money for ongoing sponsorship, he wanted to know if he could help them pay off their medical bills.We were really touched by his thoughtfulness and generous spirit. However, although this would offer a quick solution to their immediate problems, it would not help the family in the long term, and could even create problems in the future. Free To Shine is warmly welcomed and respected in the community because we strive for all our actions to be very very fair. Would it be fair to only give money for medical bills to this one family when over 50 families on our program have medical expenses? No. It would only be fair if we could offer every family the same opportunities.We also explained to Bailey that we don’t want to create a culture of dependency. If we simply gave them the money we are fixing the problem for them, instead of helping them fix it for themselves, and we don’t do that. We then suggested that instead he use the extra money he had raised to go towards a water filter and some seeds for Sreynich and her family, which would indirectly help cover any medical costs.Since Sreynich and her family drank water from a stagnant pond, they were often sick with easily preventable causes. Providing a water filter would prevent medical bills related to drinking dirty water. Her family also mainly ate rice, sometimes with a little meat and usually with just one vegetable shared between four of them. This meant that they weren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals to keep them strong and healthy, and they often got sick. The only reason they didn’t eat more vegetables was because they couldn’t afford it. We suggested that Bailey could help them be healthier by helping them grow their own vegetables. Bailey was happy to be able to put his money towards a long-term solution to the family’s medical expenses, as well as enabling them access to two of their fundamental human rights.Bailey knew that he had the ability to give more than one girl access to education. In November, he and his mum had the idea to hold a market stall in order to raise the money to be able to sponsor another girl. This was so successful that Bailey managed to raise $840! Exceeding all expectations, he was able to provide ongoing sponsorship for two more girls.

We are really proud and honored to have such a special person as part of our Free To Shine family. Bailey has proven that it’s easy to change someone’s life and that change really does start with you.#ItStartsWithYou.