One girl’s gift of hope

When 14-year-old Makayla Uribe was hospitalized with two chronic illnesses, she started folding, giving away, and selling origami cranes. The paper birds provided a thread of courage for her over the course of 34 brain surgeries. She tells the View how the cranes help her—and others—hold onto hope.

Why cranes?

I read about a Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki when I was in fifth grade. She was dying from leukemia that the bomb in Hiroshima caused. There’s a legend that if you fold one thousand paper cranes, you might get a miracle. Sadako started folding cranes but died before she finished. So her classmates finished them for her.

What does this story mean to you?

This little girl knew that she was probably going to die but was willing to do something about it, not just sit there and cry. I needed to hear that at that moment.

How has folding origami cranes helped with your recovery?

Painting and crane folding give my brain something else to focus on other than what’s wrong with it. It helps me not focus on the pain this disease causes.

Where do the cranes go?

We give them away and sell them on our website, Our Strength Project, to people from all over the U.S., Europe, Haiti, and Thailand.

How do you think the cranes affect people?

I think they remind people to be brave.

What would you like people to gain from your story and art?

We have a saying in our house, “Strength is a choice, not a feeling.” The crane is a constant reminder that even if it’s hard, if you can do something to help you have hope, you should do it!

To learn more about Makayla or to buy a crane, visit

Read more about Our Strength Project at

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