When Imani was diagnosed with a critical blood disorder, she received an endless amount of support from her family – both in the states and from hundreds of miles away.
“I grew up in Guam and once Imani’s extended family heard about her disorder [where her immune system attacks the blood cells in her body], they immediately jumped into action and did everything they could to help,” said Imani’s mother, Angie.
“It didn’t matter that they were so far away,” she continued. “Our family started fundraising for her and spreading awareness about her condition, until everyone in their entire community knew her story.”
Imani found comfort talking with her family members during stays in the hospital and weekly blood platelet treatments for her condition.
“I talked to my aunts, uncles and grandparents through Facetime, and my mom spoke to them nearly every day,” said Imani. “When my social worker said I was eligible for a wish, I chose to visit my family in Guam because I wanted to see where my mom is from and experience the culture and our heritage.”
“I was pretty surprised by her wish, but it made me feel really proud,” said Angie. “We didn’t talk much about Guam until Imani got sick, but I think the amount of support she received from our family made Imani want to surround herself with all that love in person.”
After several difficult months of treatment, Imani’s doctors said she was clear to travel.
Imani had been to Guam only once before, for her grandmother’s funeral when she was a baby. But this trip was going to be cause for celebration, where everyone – not just her family, but the entire island - planned for Imani’s wish.
“As soon as we arrived, there was a huge welcoming committee waiting for us,” said Angie. “Imani was the honorary fire chief of Guam for the day, she rode in a fire truck, and she had an article about her published in the paper!”
“It’s amazing because I’m from a smaller community where everyone knows each other, so she’s a celebrity there. I think everybody’s wish came true being able to meet Imani after hearing her story.”
It even felt like a vacation for Imani’s family who lives on the island.
“We went snorkeling, watched dolphins on a river boat cruise, and saw so many fun dinner shows and performances,” said Angie. “I’ve lived in Guam almost my whole life, but we experienced so many new things during Imani’s wish that I’d never been able to do before.”
“I already knew a few words in the native language, but staying with my family, going to museums and watching the Tahitian shows helped me learn so much about Guam,” said Imani. “I loved the beaches and jungles, the food and seeing all the wildlife.”
Unfortunately, Imani had to spend a portion of her trip in the hospital, but she felt comforted because she had her family by her side.
“Everything still felt so peaceful and relaxing,” said Imani. “We watched the Festival of Liberation from the hospital and had a lot of barbecues at my papa’s house or on the beach. It’s a different culture and way of life than back home, and even when I felt sick, the best part was being around my family.”
Imani still receives weekly treatments for her condition, but her mother feels her wish has helped everyone to see things from a different perspective.
“I think Imani’s wish put a little hope back into her and all of us,” said Angie.
“My wish helped me see how much my family loves me, no matter how many miles may separate us. Even if they aren’t here with me, they are supporting me,” said Imani. “I can’t wait to go back to Guam and see my family again someday.”