Wednesday 18 September 2019

Kind-hearted young Irish girl (11) writes and illustrates book to raise money to support seriously-ill children

Keeva Delaney with Miriam O'Callaghan, who is patron of Cliona's Foundation
Keeva Delaney with Miriam O'Callaghan, who is patron of Cliona's Foundation

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

A kind-hearted young girl has written and illustrated a book to raise money to help support seriously-ill children and their families.

Keeva Delaney (11), who is from Ballycarney in Co Carlow, penned The Dolls' Complaints last year and is donating all of her earnings from the book to ‘incredible’ charity Cliona's foundation - which provides financial assistance to the parents of children with life-limiting conditions.

Her proud mother Maurita told Independent.ie that once Keeva gets an idea in her head there is no stopping her.

“About two years ago, on holiday one night, she decided ‘oh I’m going to write a book’,” she laughed.

“She always had the title The Dolls' Complaints and she got up the next morning and by 9am she had the book written in her iPad, she had it done.

“At the start of the summer we decided to do something with it and Keeva decided she wanted to publish it to raise money for a charity.

“We picked Clíona’s Foundation because we just thought it is an incredible charity that they would help families financially when children were in hospital, just incredible.”

Clíona’s Foundation was set up by Brendan and Terry Ring, whose daughter Clíona passed away from an inoperable brain tumour in 2006, aged just 16.

Maurita feels that Clíona’s Foundation is an organisation that everyone should get behind.

“Clíona’s Foundation has 34 families on their waiting list at the moment, they’re run on a completely voluntary basis as they get no government funding.

“Brendan spoke in Dunnes and the amount of parents crying in the audience was shocking because he shared his own story and the amazing thing is there were two people here that were actually helped by Clíona’s Foundation.

“One of them was here with the letter she got from the charity with a cheque in it and she was nearly crying as she thanked Brendan. Her child was only eight weeks old when he died.

“I’m so blessed, I have three happy and healthy children but I don’t know what could happen in the morning. We have enough money to pay for everything day-to-day but if something like this happens, you’re in trouble.”

Keeva’s book The Dolls' Complaints is a story about a seriously ill girl called Melissa, who has left her dolls in her sister Anne’s care while she is undergoing treatment in hospital.

In the book the dolls write a series of complaint letters about how they have been treated in Melissa’s absence.

Modest Keeva said: “I can’t understand why children’s books are written by adults, it doesn’t make sense. Childrens’ imaginations are far better than adults.”

The driven girl has shown further initiative as she organised for Dunnes Stores to exclusively stock the project and she hopes that her book can reach as many people as possible.

“Keeva herself e-mailed Dunnes Stores and asked would they stock it nationwide,” Maurita said.

“She wanted it sold north and south of the border because I’m from the North. We got an email back about two weeks later to say yes they’d be delighted to help us out. It’s phenomenal how it’s taken legs. We’re starting a big social media campaign and we have got an awful lot of celebrities to do little videos for us to wish Keeva well.

“We’re also starting a competition nationwide for children to design their own doll and the prize is we’re going to make the doll and we’re going to make the narrative to go with it and put it on film and get the child involved in doing that.”

Keeva's dream is to appear on the Late Late Toy Show as she wants a chance to spread the word about Clíona’s Foundation and the work it does.

“We’ve been trying to get Keeva on to the Late Late Toy Show so we submitted a little video and did the whole thing.

“I know it’s probably sewed up by now but we’re still trying to get her on. Even for thirty seconds and the book will be nationwide then. It would massively help Keeva to promote it because it’s the exact audience that the charity is aimed at.”

She would also to meet some of the children being helped by Clíona’s Foundation.

“As a person Keeva is so positive,” she said.

“If you ask her can she do something she says ‘well, why couldn’t I?’ She doesn’t get too worked up about any of it. Even in Dunnes Stores' Head Office she turned around to me and said ‘Mammy this is snazzy, isn’t it’. She is just taking it all in her stride and she’s loving it.

“Cliona's Foundation and the work they do is bigger than us. It’s bigger than Keeva and that’s the message she is trying to get across.”

  • The Dolls' Complaints is available in Dunnes Stores and through their online store now, priced at €8

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