On any given day, if you are on the children’s ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, you just might get to see an angel in action. No, she wouldn’t be wearing a white gown with shiny wings, but she would be busy making dreams come true for sick boys and girls.
Adorial Maxwell-Hazell is heaven-sent for children who are terminally ill or those diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. Through her Precious Touch Foundation, she brings laughter and wonder to these vulnerable kids by granting them their heart’s wish.
“I have a great love for children,” she says with a twinkle in her eye.
“I am really touched by little children facing the most challenging times and I always wish there was more that I could do, so I love granting them that special wish.”
The idea for the non-profit organization came to life in Adorial’s living room, while she was enjoying the Lifetime movie, A Child’s Wish.
“The movie featured a little girl who had cancer and her wish was to meet President Clinton. The Wish Foundation took her and her family to the White House and when the President came out and said ‘I hear there is a little guest waiting to meet me’, she turned around and when she saw him, you should see the look on her face, and that was quite emotional for me. I told myself I would love to start a foundation like that in Barbados so I rounded up a few friends – faithful, dedicated ones – and I told them about my idea. It took a while to get off the ground but eventually the Precious Touch Foundation was launched on November 24, 2007.”
Eight years on, the foundation, which partners with corporate Barbados, has granted the wishes of 38 children between the ages of two and 16 years old.
“It is amazing working with these families. Most of the children are on the hospital ward. Most of them want a wish and most families are so warm to the idea.”
The wishes are divided into four categories – I wish to go, I wish to have, I wish to meet, I wish to be.
Once the foundation approves the wish, Adorial and her team of volunteers immediately get down to business.
“We had a little boy from Guyana who wanted a gospel concert; we had everything all planned but he died a week before. We recognize that we might lose some of our children before the wish is granted or maybe just after. So when we get a wish, we move real fast on getting the wish granted. We don’t waste time. Our aim is to make the moment magical. We make the experience one they will never forget.”
With a chuckle, Adorial says the wishes come in all shapes and sizes.
Take for example, 6-year old Ashanti Bynoe who was overwhelmed when she received her pink laptop in January this year, or six-year old Takara Straker who couldn’t contain her excitement when her dream “to go on a boat in the sea” came through last June when she and her family were treated to a Tiami Catamaran lunch cruise.
“We had a little child who wanted a doll house. She wanted a fridge, curtains, chairs, washing machine and a bed, so I’m wondering where am I going to get all these things furnished in a house. So I went to Walmart and we got a dollhouse about five feet and it came with everything. She could not believe it.
“Another little girl wanted to be princess for a day. She wanted a limousine, she wanted to stay in a hotel, and she wanted her own bodyguard dressed in a three-piece suit with dark shades. She even wanted a lady-in-waiting and she wanted a princess ball. Hilton Barbados took that wish and that wish was beautiful – she was a princess.”
“The wish makes a big difference,” says Adorial. “When a child knows he or she is getting a wish, somehow I find they have extra energy. When you go back to the ward, they don’t seem so down even though they are probably in pain. When they see the wish women coming, they look so alive and that means a lot to me.”
Fifteen-year-old Shaquille Griffith and his mother Sharon are strong supporters of the Precious Touch Foundation. Shaquille first met Adorial while warded at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital due to a severe heart condition.
“I really didn’t know about the foundation until the sister came to the ward and told me that Shaquille would be granted a wish. So then I met Adorial and we talked and I signed the form,” Sharon said.
Shaquille’s first wish was a trip to Disney, but his doctor advised against travel. A determined Adorial, however, ensured he got a second wish and his mother fondly remembers the joy it brought to her sick son.
“Shaquille wanted a laptop and about two days before the presentation, he said, ‘mummy these people promised me a wish but they don’t seem be coming anymore’. That same Saturday Adorial had called me but I didn’t tell him they were coming, so it was a surprise and the only thing he didn’t do was faint. It brought tears to my eyes.
“It was really nice to me, all my years with Shaquille being sick from birth, I never had anything like this and now every time the foundation has something, they would always include us.”
Shaquille’s joy and the happiness of the children she calls her own are what keeps Adorial going.
“When you go to the hospital and you see those children lying on the bed, that touches me and when you can grant them a wish, you see a new face – one that’s not looking sad. You make a friend. I make them happy, they make me happy.”
The foundation is presently working on three wishes. One little girl will be going to Disney World, a little boy is all booked to travel to Canada and another girl will visit New York.
Adorial is looking forward to granting even more wishes and makes it clear she won’t be giving up her work any time soon.
Her very own wish is to expand beyond Barbados.
“I would love to expand to other islands in the Caribbean with the Precious Touch Foundation.
But for now, she is content to perform miracles at home and she’s inviting more women to come out and volunteer.
“As long as you love it and you have patience and you love what you are doing, it is going to come so easy. Most of the times it’s nice, but don’t start it if you know you are not going to follow through, especially when you are dealing with little children because you can’t promise them something and then don’t deliver, you hurt them so much.
“This is something I will be doing for a very long, long time. I am determined to make it happen.”