Childhood should be the most magical phase of one’s life. For children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, the magic is easily lost. Reach For A Dream aims to alleviate some of the emotional, physical and financial strain of dealing with a life-threatening illness by creating magical moments that last a lifetime. Some of the health concerns it deals with range from leukemia, cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy to HIV, kidney failure, and blood disorders.
Reach For A Dream was established in 1988, inspired by the work of the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the United States, and this year celebrates 30 years of fulfilling children’s dreams. With branches across South Africa, its core projects are Camp Sunshine, Jabulani Kingdom, Queen for a Day, Capitan Courage, Family Focus and Dream Fulfillment.
Dream fulfillment is what the foundation is primarily known for. Through fulfilling each child’s unique dream it is able to bring many forms of relief to each child. At the same time, fulfilling the dreams of terminally ill children is not just about fulfilling a child’s wants. Reach For A Dream’s work is about improving the quality of life of these children. Dreams usually fall into one of the following categories:
- A dream to meet someone famous or their role model, e.g. meeting Celine Dion.
- A dream to go somewhere or to see an amazing place, e.g. Table Mountain.
- A dream to become somebody or something, e.g. to be a radio DJ for a day.
- A dream to have a special experience, e.g. a ride in a Ferrari.
- A dream to have or own something, e.g. dolls or a motorised car.
Anyone can contribute to a dream for a child fighting a life-threatening illness. The fulfillment of these dreams has the positive effect of inspiring hope and courage in the dreamer and helps them believe that tomorrow is worth fighting for.
Reach For A Dream has already realised approximately 18 000 dreams to date, and impacts about 40 000 children per year.
Challenges confronting Reach For A Dream include funding to sustain and expand its activities, while it is always looking for children who are life-threatened and need support.
“Fulfilling the dreams of life-threatened children is at the core of what we do. When a child gets diagnosed with a life-threatening illness it takes a severe toll on their life. Despite this reality, life-threatened children still have dreams, and we want to fulfill them. Through fulling each child’s dream we are able to bring a spark of hope back into each child’s life, as we know children want nothing more than to have their dreams come true, regardless of their illness. A dream could be going to the sea for the first time or getting a doll house. No matter the dream, we try to fulfil it. Let’s make dreams come true.”
This is the twenty-eighth NGO profile of my #NGOs4Africa Campaign.