Becca Myers in 2004, after seeing the sad faces of the children of Acech, Sumatra, orphaned by the earthquake, and subsequent tsunami, knew the children needed teddy bears. She knew when she felt sad that her teddy bear made her feel better. Becca went out into her neighborhood collecting funds for, what she called, the “wave kids.” Somewhere along the way, she was corrected and told that the children were, “tsunami kids,” so from then on, Becca collected for the “salami kids.”
Becca raised over $130.00 dollars. The funds were donated to the Cafe Femenino Foundation, which was founded by the Smiths in Vancouver, WA. The funds were wired to Sumatra, where the Smith's also export coffee from. The open air market in Medan, Sumatra was cleaned out of “teman tidure” (sleeping friend) stuffed animals. The animals were taken to a refugee center that held 300 survivors, mostly family members and employees of the Andalas Padang Cement Corporation plant that was Lhok Nga's, (a community near Banda, Aceh) largest employer.
In a matter of minutes, the factory, port and pier, and the adjacent commercial center and worker housing was demolished. An estimated 60-80% of the town's 10,000 people perished on December 26th . The survivors were well fed and clothed with the assistance of both local Indonesian charities, and the company. However, the refugees appeared dispirited and initially somewhat uneasy about receiving their foreign visitors. Their stories were touching and tragic. A father had seen his wife and three children swept away, three young children under the age of 15 had lost their parents, and many had family members who were still missing. The continuing sense of shock and sadness was evident on their faces and voices as they spoke.
However, “Becca's Bears” was right on the mark. That day, every child received a stuffed animal, over 100 children received Becca's gift of love and friendship. The appearance and distribution of the new furry friends unleashed an outpouring of joy and excitement for all. The survivors from Aceh, and their visitors from America , celebrated Becca's vision together. In a small but significant way, the stuffed animals helped to wash the trauma of the tsunami away for the children and adults of Lhok Nga.
For her very big heart, Becca received a thank you, signed personally from the President of the United States , along with a picture of him and Mrs. Bush, and of their Scotty dogs Miss Beazley and Barney with their paw prints. Becca efforts also earned her a letter of thank you from Brian Baird, Washington State representative to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Becca, a third grader at Glen Wood Heights Elementary in Battle Ground, WA, has gained her school's support, to begin a penny drive for “Becca's Bears”. The Smiths will be purchasing the bears for the children in Guatemala on their upcoming trip to Guatemala to visit the Santiago area and other coffee producing regions hurt by hurricane Stan.
Contributions to support Becca's Bears” can be sent to the Cafe Femenino Foundation an IRS 501C3 non-profit at: PO Box 2187, Vancouver, WA 98668.
The Foundation's mission is to benefit women and families in coffee producing communities around the world.
Becca's Bears is now a program of the Cafe Femenino Foundation. Bears are delivered to children who have experienced trauma in their lives. Bears have been delivered to Guatemala after hurricanes and mudslides affected families in that country in 2006. Most recently in December 2008 bears were delivered to the children of the producers who had cleft pallet surgeries.