Recently we received an email that got us rather intrigued.

Hi. I thought you’d like to see what Maiyah has been up to. Maiyah is a HIPPY kid. Her mum Donna was at HIPPY Hornby in 2016...” - Kim Strange

Attached to the email was a link to a video and a Facebook page called “Girl with Cake Projects”, sharing the amazing work done by Maiyah, an 8-year-old girl from Hornby in Christchurch. Since she was five years old, Maiyah has been baking and selling cupcakes to raise money to help the homeless in her city. She’s just a young girl, but she’s making a huge difference.

We figured that such an amazing kid must also have a pretty amazing mum, so we messaged Maiyah and her mum Donna and asked if they would share their story with us. (Of course they said yes, they are awesome).

Here is what they told us about how a little girl is using cake to make a difference in the world…


Maiyah and Donna at their HIPPY GraduationDonna, how did you get involved with HIPPY?

I got involved with HIPPY when Kim Strange (the local HIPPY Coordinator at the time) knocked on 
my door. She was in my neighbourhood promoting the programme and I signed up Maiyah (and later my son ) to give it a go. 


How do you think HIPPY has benefited your family?

There were many benefits of HIPPY for my family. In particular, I had to make a conscious decision and effort to put 15 minutes aside each day and work one-on-one with my kids. I found that each of my kids had a different style of learning. They also learned at a different pace.  This understanding definitely helped during the Covid lockdown, when I had to take on home schooling!

For myself, HIPPY gave me the confidence to talk to the kids’ teachers. All of a sudden I found I understood school jargon and education vocabulary. The objectives and levels of learning material teachers were implementing in class were quite similar to the work we did with HIPPY.

HIPPY even helped push me out of my comfort zone and attend different information meetings held for parents at our school. I have met some really amazing people through HIPPY, especially some amazing inspiring mums who have become good friends. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of HIPPY and seeing amazing things happen in families in my community!

A lot of love and toiletries go into the packs Maiyah creates for the homeless


How did the “Girl with Cake Project” get started?

“Girl with Cake Project” started out merely as something Maiyah could do during the school holidays. The local community centre was having a Kids Market - a place where kids could get a taste of entrepreneurship and sell whatever they wanted.

I thought it would be a good way to teach Maiyah the value of money and how to work for it. When I asked her what she was going to buy with her profits, without hesitation she said: "Give it to the Homeless".

The idea behind the care packages came as she wondered, “if people are homeless, where do they shower?” etc. Her idea was around that fresh feeling you get after you have a shower - you feel great. She wanted to give homeless people a chance to feel that.


Maiyah, what inspired you to want to help people?

Maiyah is now an expert at baking and decorating cupcakes

When I saw homeless people in the city. It made me feel sad. I wanted to help them feel good and maybe help give them a fresh start.


Donna, how did you react when Maiyah told you her idea?

I was surprised! I totally didn’t expect that she was going to give her earnings to the less fortunate. I didn’t think she even knew what homelessness was - she was only 5 years old when she first started! But I said ok and we just ran with it. 


When it comes to the Girl with Cake Project, how does it work?

Maiyah makes the cupcakes all from scratch using family recipes. I used to put them in the oven for her but now she does everything. She will make about 100+ cupcakes every Bake Sale. 

She also does the shopping for toiletries, which is always fun - especially when she’s pushing a trolley full of sanitary pads… The reactions from adults are priceless!Maiyah creates beautiful cupcakes for special occasions

We all pitch in when making the packs. Sometimes she recruits her Nana and Godmother to help. But it's really her doing all the work. 


How do you fit everything in - school/work, home, cakes, making packs and just being a kid/being a mum?

It's a mission to fit everything in. We try and limit Bake Sales to just during school holidays so that it doesn’t clash with Maiyah’s sporting commitments. She plays Rugby League (she’s the only girl on the team), touch rugby, basketball and does athletics.

Sometimes Maiyah has had special orders for cupcakes for birthdays, baby showers, work meetings or recently even a funeral. Unfortunately, we’ve had to decline some requests as it is a lot to juggle. I think people forget that she’s still only 8 years old! I have to put my foot down sometimes and say no.

Sporty Maiyah - not just a baker but an athlete too

So far Maiyah has made over 200 care packs for Christchurch City Mission and has also given them a lot of canned food. She has also done extra packs to hand out in the streets as well. Last year she gave some packs out while we were on holiday in Auckland. 


You have been doing this for a while now - what keeps you going?

We are seeing more and more people becoming street whanau. The opportunity to be kind to someone in need is always there. That's what keeps us going. For Maiyah it's about spreading kindness. No matter how big or small of an act. 

What are your dreams for the future?

Kindness has no colour - Maiyah

Maiyah’s dream is to inspire people all over the world just to be kind to others. 


Some people have a good idea but might be scared to act on it - what would you say to them?

Our message to people who may have an idea but are scared to give it a go is: If a little girl can dream to change a person's life with a simple cupcake, you can too! Many people doubted that a cupcake would make an impact. But here we are. Be like Nike and Just Do It! 

Maiyahs Cupcake stall at the local marketMaiyah with her mum Donna and brother Malaefou

We are so inspired by both Maiyah and Donna - Maiyah couldn’t do what she does with her mum’s support and belief in her.

Thank you Maiyah and Donna for sharing your story with us! We hope lots of people get inspired by your amazing example.


Follow Girl With Cake Projects on Facebook
VIDEO: Maiyah's Story on Braveheart Christchurch
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