The Gift of Childhood


Maya (not her real name) had been here less than two weeks when she had to be rushed to the children’s hospital in Little Rock in the middle of the night. She was suffering from an intense attack of sickle cell anemia. Her misshapen red blood cells were stuck in her blood vessels and all across her body, her muscles were being deprived of oxygen. She was in intense pain and couldn’t breathe. At the hospital, the doctors gave her medication and made an appointment for her to see a specialist in two months.

Two weeks later, Maya was back at the emergency room. This time, she was admitted to the newly-opened Northwest Arkansas Children’s Hospital where she was able to see a pediatric hematologist the very next day. When he first laid eyes on her, he tearfully told Canopy staff that she likely would not have survived this attack in the refugee camp, but here in Northwest Arkansas, he could give her a new chance at life. He immediately took charge of her case: he ordered her an emergency blood transfusion and set her up on a holistic treatment plan. He turned things around for her. Now, Maya is thriving. She is responding well to treatment, doing well in school and can go back to just being a kid.


This past year, Canopy was able to welcome and care for 34 other children just like Maya. Some of them were born and had lived their whole lives in refugee camps. Some were orphaned, having lost both their parents to war. Some had just narrowly escaped a life of gang violence and were joining parents they hadn't seen since they were toddlers. 

With your help, each and every one of these children was able to receive individual attention and care from a Canopy case manager: he let them pinch his hands while they got their shots, he met with their teachers to help craft customized learning plans, he helped them get set up with counselors so that they could start to heal from the trauma they had encountered.

We were also able to enroll 23 of these school-aged children in our After-School Buddies Program, thanks to an incredible partnership with Students for Refugees at the University of Arkansas. Through this program, the children meet once a week to work on their homework, practice their English, learn about American culture and meet one-on-one with a mentor. This semester, they’ve even been able to do a little bit of art therapy thanks to our friends at Art for the Heart.  

Thanks to his careful attention and the hard work of all the volunteers, tutors, teachers, doctors and therapists who have poured into these kids, they are all slowly seeing their childhoods restored. 

This coming year, we are expecting and waiting for 26 more children just like Maya-- and perhaps others we don't even know about yet. During this season of giving, we ask you to give the children who are here and the many children to come the gift of an education and a restored childhood.