Kaitlin Boyda, a 17-year-old girl from Lethbridge, Alberta, struggled with an incurable brain tumour since the summer of 2009. While other kids her age were busy texting and thinking about prom, she went through two surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation.

But when the Children’s Wish Foundation approached Kaitlin to grant her a wish to brighten her life full of hospital rooms and medications, she decided to give it all away. This choice became Kaitlin’s legacy.

“It didn’t seem right to spend all the money on myself,” said Kaitlin.

She decided to donate her wish to bring clean water to children in Uganda. Compassion Uganda was working to bring clean water to 21 Compassion centres in need around the country. Kaitlin’s wish built one of these wells.

Kaitlin smiles at the camera in a white top. The sun is hitting her face.

Kaitlin’s legacy has impacted the lives of children living in poverty. Her wish became their gift.

Her heart of compassion was infectious. Various people in her community, around the country and even around the world heard about her wish and were inspired by Kaitlin’s legacy.

In fact, so many people were moved by Kaitlin’s story that the full amount needed to fund all 21 wells was raised in less than two months. As people continued to give, the additional funds have gone towards water projects across Africa, totaling more than $325,000.

Kaitlin’s wish brought clean water to tens of thousands of people in Uganda and even more across Africa. Many times children are the ones who have to gather water for their families. They might walk several kilometres both morning and night, which makes going to school difficult. Clean water not only lightens these children’s loads, but also drastically reduces their chance of illness and death through parasites, water-borne diseases and diarrhea.

Just months after Kaitlin chose to donate her wish to help children in Uganda, she passed away in May of 2011. But Kaitlin’s legacy continues in each of the children’s lives who now have access to clean water and a better chance at a healthy life.

Amber Van Schooneveld

Amber Van Schooneveld

Amber Van Schooneveld is the Managing Editor of Compassion International's blog.