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VIDEO: B.C. teen crafts paper cranes to grant wishes for Help Fill A Dream

Myla Bui raises hopes with paper skills honed at her sister’s hospital bedside
Saanich teen Myla Bui folds cranes in the thousands to help raise funds and spirits with the Help Fill a Wish Foundation. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Myla Bui can fold a paper crane in under two minutes.

The Saanich teen took up origami as she sat at her sister’s bedside after Leila Bui was hospitalized with severe, life-altering injures – a result of being hit by a driver while crossing the street outside her home in 2017. In the sterility of that hospital room hung a mobile dripping in colourful paper cranes, courtesy of a family friend.

It offered a spot of brightness and Myla first learned about the Japanese legend that promises a wish for the person who folds 1,000 origami cranes.

Enamoured, she started folding for fun.

A couple years ago, her mom Kairry Nguyen suggested the now 13-year-old take a philanthropy course, Myla recalled.

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One step in the Coast Capital Savings Foundation of Youth Giving Hearts Workshop entails creating a fundraiser – Myla’s brother suggested the origami.

While the workshop asked youth to develop a fundraiser as part of the coursework, implementing was Myla’s idea.

In 2020, Myla started a campaign called 1,001 Cranes 1 Wish – adding a crane for luck.

She folds cranes while fundraising. When she has 1,001 cranes, Myla makes a mobile and the Help Fill a Dream recipient receives both the funds and the wish in form of a mobile.

She selected Help Fill A Dream Foundation as the benefactor. It’s the organization that once helped the family build a ramp and get an accessible vehicle so Leila – who relies on a wheelchair at all times – to come home.

In the near three years since, she’s created a dozen mobiles – at minimum 12,012 cranes – for young people facing health issues.

The Help Fill a Dream Foundation supports families from Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands whose lives are suddenly disrupted by a child’s diagnosis or severe health challenge.

She’s honed the craft since then, embarking on an initiative with Help Fill a Dream Foundation in 2021 to help raise hopes and funds.

Now in Grade 8 at Arbutus Global School, she’s folded – with a little help at times – at minimum 12,012 cranes, to create 12 mobiles for the Help Fill a Dream. She presented her latest mobile late last month, this one funded fully by an anonymous donor, to a girl whose wish (granted) is to visit Japan.

Myla took the wish into account, building a mobile with the Japanese character for dream in it.

Aside from the philanthropy, origami remains family bonding time.

Myla and her mom often craft cranes while watching television with Leila.


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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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