(article via KXAN)
“Amazing” can be such a boring word. We tend to use it to the point of meaninglessness. But in the mouth of 11-year-old Grace London, the word can take your breath away.
When she utters it, her mouth opens wide and her eyes bug out a bit. She lingers on the second syllable and hits the ‘z’ with the ferocious slicing sound of a swinging sword. When she’s done and moving on to the next word in her sentence, you are already convinced. No matter what else she says, you already believe her. She has you.
“There was a whole big parade and they had, like, signs saying, ‘Long live Max and his family,’ Grace’s story begins.
It is a story that very, very few children can tell because very, very few children have ever experienced it. There she was, along with her 9-year-old brother, Max, in an Ethiopian village. Back home in Austin, her brother had spent weeks raising money, lots of money, to build four wells in East Africa. Last December, he, Grace and the rest of the family went to the village for the official opening of a new well there.
“It was just really, really surreal,” said Grace. “Everyone was lining up and the kids were singing and holding up Ethiopian flags. And so we just kind of walked down and it was—here comes the word—amazing.”
After the huge parade, Max and Grace took up positions on either side of a huge pump handle and went to work. At the spout, clean, clear water emerged and villagers had their turn at amazement.
“That’s something that people in America take for granted, just pure water,” noted Grace. “It’s amazing to the Africans, just clean water to drink. That’s such a sacred thing there.”
In the video, the villagers watched the pumping in awe and Grace stole a glance at Max.
“I was really, really proud of my brother because it was a great thing,” she said.
But the water issue was just part of this child’s education in Africa.
“We saw this school entirely made out of sticks,” she recalled. “It had no roof and for seats, the kids were sitting on clumps of dry mud, listening to the teacher. And all they had in the room was a chalk board.”
Then there was the clothing.
“They pretty much wear the same clothes every single day and they walk for hours and hours and hours to get water,” said Grace. “A lot of the kids have to drop out of school to work with their families, like with their fathers in the fields or with their mothers carrying water.”
“Back in the U.S., the girl returned to her own life, which includes fronting Residual Kid, a rock-n-roll band made up of 11-, 12- and 13-year-old musicians. But Grace couldn’t get her new African friends out of her mind or her heart.
“When I came back from Ethiopia, I just realized that my problems, like maybe a mean girl or two or something at school, didn’t even compare to what is going on there,” she said. “It just made me feel really, really lucky and grateful.”
Then she started seeing news reports about a spreading drought and famine that was killing thousands of people, mostly children—30,000 so far—in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.
“I couldn’t get my head wrapped around that it could be possibly any worse than it already was,” she said. “It’s so, so, so sad and heartbreaking and I just really couldn’t believe it.”
But Grace was in a position to help. Her dad works for an outfit called the “Glimmer of Hope” foundation. The Austin-based group of social entrepreneurs spends millions every year bringing fresh, clean water wells and systems to East African villages.
“My parents have always encouraged me to give back in my music and do music to help others, as well,” said Grace. “So I think it’s really great that I can use my passion and my gift to try to help others.”
That gift, that passion, is simply amazing. It lifts Residual Kid to the rafters.
On a recent Saturday night, the band packed a downtown Austin club with other kids and their parents for an hour-long set that garnered close to $3,000 for A Glimmer of Hope fundraising campaign, aimed at helping non-government organizations like Save the Children, relieve the suffering in the Horn of Africa.
Then there were the two solo acoustic gigs Grace did earlier. Altogether, her efforts and those of her band mates have collected right at $20,000 to help the Africans.
“This is something so crucial, and something so awful is happening right now,” said the girl. “And I think it’s definitely time to help.”
Back on stage, the fervor builds, the fever burns, the drums, the keyboard, the bass and the guitar rise in a cacophonous crescendo that is literally heard around the world. It is quite simply amazing — a Glimmer of Grace.