Have you seen a 12-year-old girl lately? If so, they were probably texting on their shiny new cell phone, watching a movie at the movie theater, shopping at name brand stores with their mothers, or belting out lyrics to the latest Billboard Hot 100 song from the car next to you at the red light. But, have you ever met a 12-year-old girl attempting to change the world? Well, if you have had the pleasure of meeting Emma Rice, then you certainly have.
Emma Rice is a normal 12-year-old girl who enjoys dancing to music, making arts and crafts, hanging out with her friends, writing creative articles for a made-up newspaper and filming homemade videos with her two younger sisters in her free time. However, unlike many girls her age, Emma is also the founder of a nonprofit organization, Emmazing Grace, which seeks to support children in Haiti so that they can acquire an education by attending school.
The idea for Emmazing Grace originates back to the American Girl craft set once given to her as a present. As Emma began to mix her paints together for fun, she decided to make a business out of it and give a percentage of what she made to an orphanage in Haiti that her father had visited previously. However, after the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, taking over 7,000 lives and causing nearly 300,000 hospitalizations, Emma decided to shift her small business into a full-time charity. Apparently the pain and suffering that Emma saw after watching a program on Haiti on Local 10 ABC news transformed her life. One of the vivid images that Emma recalls is a clip of a women screaming in pain after having recently lost her arm as doctors hastily applied alcohol. Emma recalls, “I knew I couldn’t just do nothing, so that’s when I really started working hard on Emmazing Grace.” Thus, on July 1, 2011, Emmazing Grace was officially born.
The charity requires a lot of work for both Emma and her parents. While her mother helps with updating the website, answering emails and keeping track of orders and her father is responsible for the finances, Emma spends nearly an hour per painting, making sure all the colors are right and the work is of great quality. She starts each piece by painting a colorful background of the customer’s choice, and then adds the text, which includes anything from a bible verse to a silly saying. Each painting is one-of-a-kind and is personalized for the client for only a $25 minimum donation; the net proceeds go to Reciprocal Ministries International to support a child in Haiti.
As a result of starting her organization just last year, Emma has already sent seven kids to school for a year (cost of $336 per child) and is on her way to helping at least fifteen more this upcoming year. What started as a hobby has now transformed the lives of children in Haiti by giving them an opportunity to be educated and to start a life for themselves. Emma, in her 12 short years of life, has already begun to change the lives of many others and is fulfilling the command in her favorite bible verse, Deuteronomy 15:11, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in your land.” Furthermore, Emma did not “let anyone look down on [her] because [she is] young.” Instead, Emma redefined the standards by which youth today are seen, by setting “an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12) by reaching out to the poverty-stricken. Although she is not even in high school yet, Emma has dreams of studying journalism in college and moving to Haiti later on in her life to help others by starting a school in the country or writing a book about it. As far as her future is concerned, “I want to do Emmazing Grace for the rest of my life,” Emma asserts. She is truly a blossoming young lady who has reached out to the poor and to the needy. She has been a light to a dark world and has never let age define what she can do. Emma Rice is the epitome of a world changer.
It is clear to anyone who has heard of Emma Rice that this is a girl who saw a need and sought a way to fix it. It is amazing that she has seen the same tragedies that most of America has also seen, but has been a part of the few to actually do something about it. According to the United Nations Office, although it has been over two years since the earthquake in Haiti, there is still a “$231 million need to address immediate unmet needs and carry out longer-term existing projects.” The call is obviously still there; it is not too late to answer it.