The backyard at the Dare to Dream house on Staten Island feels like home to the children from all over the globe that come to live there.
Tanzanian children run around and play soccer. It's a popular sport in their country. At the house, they've not only found a familiar sport but they found safety.
What You Need To Know
- Elissa Montanti is the founder of the Global Medical Relief Fund
- The future of the charity was unknown because of pandemic restrictions
- Since travel restrictions have loosened, Montanti can bring the children that belong to her charity back to New York
- Her charity typically helps 25-30 children each year, and now they have a backlog of 60
“They have albinism and that's the same thing as albino,” said Elissa Montanti. She is the founder of the Global Medical Relief Fund. “And in certain countries it's prevalent in Tanzania - they believe it's good luck to have a body part of a Tanzanian. So they go into the villages at night and they machete these children’s limbs off. I know it’s hard to talk about but it’s reality.”
Elissa Montanti has been helping children from countries stricken by war, violent acts, natural disasters or other crises. They’ve come to New York to get the help they need for over 20 years. It’s part of a charity she started - the Global Medical Relief Fund.
“The house is back to life again and love, and it feels real good," said Montanti.
Due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, the future of Montanti’s work was unknown.
“I didn’t know if the charity would survive,” she said. “I didn’t know I'd see my kids again and I call them my kids because we bond as a family. The kids are not numbers, they are so not numbers.”
As the world opens up, Montanti has been able to bring back a backlog of kids that need surgery or prosthetics. Before the pandemic, the charity helped around 25 to 30 children yearly. They now have a list of 60.
“They just don’t come once we follow up with them until they’re 21 or until they outgrow their prosthetics. I feel horrible because there’s so many of my kids that need to come but we have to do the best we can with the time. The Schriner’s children’s hospital, they’re my lifeline and they work with us to try and speed up the process with the prosthetics being made because we need to bring the next child," said Montanti.
Other challenges Montanti faces include protecting the children from COVID. She helps them get tested overseas. When they arrive here, the children are vaccinated so the Dare to Dream house can be a safe place to come together.
“These children come from all corners of the world and they all bond as a family. They eat together, they laugh together, they eat ice cream together and if only the world could be like that,” Montanti explained. “They’re my heroes, they really are, they're amazing but they make me amazing for what I need to do.”
Montanti plans to hold a few fundraisers in the upcoming months so that the work she's doing can continue. For more information about the organization head to gmrfchildren.org.