A story to smile at: Seychellois man helping kids with disabilities
(Seychelles News Agency) - This is a story that should make you smile.
Clifford Mondon is the father of a little girl with a disability. During the Christmas season office choir competition known as Sing for Charity, Mondon was disappointed that only one child benefitted from the proceeds.
Mondon decided he wanted to do more for children in Seychelles, and Make a Child Smile is the result.
Make a Child Smile is a community driven organization to help children with disabilities, and Mondon – a business development manager – says the response has been overwhelming.
After the Sing for Charity concluded, “I said to myself why not get people on Facebook involved and collect gifts to distribute” to families with disabled children," he said.
Only days later, Mondon – along with some others who donated -- distributed gifts around Seychelles, a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
“It touched the parents and all who came along immensely,” Mondon reminisced.
After the success of the December gift giving, Mondon was approached the next month by the head teacher of the School for Exceptional Children who asked if he could help a child by the name of Lucia who has cerebral palsy and needed a new wheelchair.
|Clifford Mondon is the father of a little girl with a disability. (Cliff Mondon) Photo License: CC-BY|
Only an hour later Mondon had received not one, but two wheelchair donations. The next day, the chairs were given to Lucia and Karim, a vision-impaired student whose wheelchair was also wearing out.“I took photos of the (old) wheelchair and of the child as well after her parents gave their approval and posted it online using the Make a Child Smile campaign,” Mondon said.
Make a Child Smile is not a registered organization, and Mondon said he hopes to keep it that way.
“Due to past experience, I saw that once you register, all decisions or actions taken has to be approved by board members and not everyone has the same compassion towards other people and therefore this will hinder the time a child can get help,” he detailed.
Through Make a Child Smile, a baby boy, Timothy, who has cerebral palsy, benefitted from a new stroller.
Make a Child Smile is also assisting a little boy with clubfoot who needs new shoes, and is helping 5-year-old Aurria, who suffers from cataracts and blindness caused by a premature birth. Mondon has advertised those needs on Facebook.
“Again, the response had been incredible. Three Seychellois overseas were even ready to provide accommodation if necessary as he had to make measurements overseas. We finally got some cheaper shoes in Mauritius and two generous persons are sponsoring their accommodation,” explained Mondon.
Air Seychelles has sponsored the boy with a free ticket and 50 percent discount for his mother, while East Indies is sponsoring the other 50 percent. The family is set to leave the Seychelles during the April school holidays.
“My most challenging case however, was when I received a call from the mother of a small girl, Aurria, who has been blind since birth,” Mondon recounted.
|Make a Child Smile is not a registered organization and Mondon wants to keep it this way. (Cliff Mondon) Photo License: CC-BY|
After doing some research, he found that indeed there was a high probability that after surgery Aurria would be able to see. He recalls how that the girl herself had told him that “Jesus will make me see.”
Mondon thought that since Aurria’s case involved more money that it would take at least two months to raise the funds, the entire amount was raised in five days. Mondon also made a presentation during the mass on March 12 on her behalf.
“We have had many donors, individuals, and companies, those living in Seychelles as well as those overseas. Most of the sponsors wish to remain anonymous,” explained Mondon.
Aurria is set to leave the country on May 13 for more than two weeks while she undergoes four surgeries.
Except for Aurria’s case, where the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (CEPS) and Children´s Foundation have given some help, Make a Child Smile’s funds were raised by generous individual donors. It has no links to international charities.
“You’ll be amazed, Seychellois people are very generous. I have seen that different people are touched by different situations. When it comes to money, I know a lot of people are wary as in the past people have usurped the generosity of others for their personal gain. There are cases where even the parents use the ailments of their children to make false claims,” Mondon said.
Mondon is employed full time and his project is voluntary.
“I do not seek recognition or reward for what I do and I will not accept any reward for what I do. I get my reward from seeing the child smile as well as seeing the donors happy as well. It is something that once you have started, you can never stop, and it has really changed me. I am more patient, calm and focused, I appreciate life more and I am thankful for what I have in life.”
“There are so many children without happiness and without a smile on their face and I want to see them happy and smiling. After all, I am only doing God´s will and it´s all between me and him,” Mondon said.
Clifford Mondon can be contacted on his Facebook profile, as well as his Facebook page Make a Child Smile.