Children are at the heart of everything we do at Moeloco, from those we support with a gift of school shoes through our one-for-one model, to children inspired to start their own social enterprise. When I found the story of A’layah Robinson, a former foster child who has set up her own social enterprise of sorts, my heart was touched, and I decided to share it with you.
A’layah did not begin with an easy life. She was sadly placed in state care at birth because of her mother’s drug addiction, and spent the first four years of her life bouncing around between different foster homes and children’s shelters. Thankfully, her “forever mum”, Misty Robinson, one day found her and adopted her, as well as her two brothers. A’layah’s last foster parents had given her toys, including a bike, some Barbies and even a little tablet computer. But when she was reunited with her siblings, she was shocked to learn that her baby brother had no toys at all! She ran to her room to find something for him to play with, and came back with a stuffed bear, a block and a little book. It was then that A’layah knew that she wanted to help other foster children, who are not always as lucky when it comes to being assigned a home.
Not long after their adoption, she was out with her brothers and new mother at a garage sale. They saw a group of teenagers who were selling lemonade to raise money for a friend’s quinceanera, and when her mum explained what was going on, Lemonade for Love was born. Her mum helped out by buying the lemons and mixes, while her grandparents bought cups and ice, and on her very first day she managed to raise $132. She chose the bears that she wanted to buy for foster children on the internet, and eventually decided to make “love packages” for them. These are drawstring backpacks that each contain a stuffed bear, blanket, toothbrush, toothpaste and a Bible, and only cost $10 each. So far, she has donated around 300 backpacks; but although there are over 400,000 foster children in the USA, the difference she has already made is significant.
Ever since gaining media attention, A’layah has won huge support, with ordinary people and businesses donating lemonade supplies and gift bag supplies. On one recent sale day, she even made $1,400! Her new mother said, “I just want to continue to embrace her little generous spirit that the Lord has blessed her with as long as possible and pray it sticks with her throughout her life”.
At The HOPE Foundation, I saw many others committed to giving children from difficult situations the chance to just be children again. I saw the tremendous difference it made to children much like A’layah and those she is now helping, and the opportunities they now have. So even though we have never met, we both share the same dream of a better life for the world’s underprivileged children.