Alex Foto inspired thousands as a young activist and World Vision Youth Ambassador. She was tragically killed last August.
To honour her, World Vision’s Youth Team is making a challenge to #LiveLikeAlex
on August 9.
Alex had a dream of gathering people across the world to take a walk with a jerry can to raise awareness and funds for global water projects. And that’s what’s happening on the 9th.
Childview spoke to Alex’s mother, Pat Foto, about her daughter and the challenge.
It sounds like Alex was a powerful combination of passion and action. How would you describe the young woman she was?
I was in awe of her. I was humbled by her. I admired her.
The thing about Alex, she was kind to everyone, so everyone supported her. I worried for her. I thought she would end up in the slums of Kolkata taking care of children, and what then becomes of her life? Then I came to accept, this is Alex.
I couldn’t hold her back. It was just something in her. I was blessed.
This #LiveLikeAlex event came about because she made a YouTube video that we didn’t even know about. She wanted to create a national water walk to bring awareness to how women have to carry water, and how difficult it is. After she died, someone [at World Vision found it]. World Vision came to us and we all got totally behind it. It made sense to do it on the anniversary of her death. We formed a committee of people who were close to Alex and World Vision.
How did Alex become such a strong activist?
When Alex was eight or nine, we went on a trip to Colombia
. She met a little boy there whose family was very poor. He slept on stacked boxes as a mattress; his prized toy was a Transformer without a head.
It impacted her—how we have a world of haves and have-nots. She couldn’t understand that. Then she started paying attention to the World Vision commercials. Alex got involved with Free the Children, the social justice club at her school, and World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine
. She did six consecutive years of the Famine. She got to know the people at World Vision a little bit more.
For her, it wasn't just doing a 30 Hour Famine. It was a big event. She had speakers. She had food donated. She made sure the kids all did the countdown, and then she had pizza for them. She offered community service hours if they raised a certain amount. She was involved in lots of things. The girl didn’t sleep. She was crazy passionate about this and believed one person could make the difference.
What does it mean to you to have this legacy come from your daughter’s life?
When she passed away, I had a very small circle of people I let into my life at that time. At Thanksgiving last year, I was at the cemetery. I came home and made a decision. I can die with her, which is what I wanted to do, or make sure the things she believed in continued—that she didn’t die in vain but that her passions continued.
I was inspired by the number of cards and emails I received. We had had almost 2,000 people at the funeral. I heard from moms about how Alex had impacted their children and teens. I thought, This is bigger than me and I can’t be selfish about it.
I had to switch my way of thinking. I thought I owed it to her to be strong and make sure people know about Alex and what she believed in. My niece said to me, “Alex did all the things I was afraid to do.”
There are lots of kids like that, who have the ideas and want to do it; they just don’t know how. They don’t know it can have an impact. That’s what Alex showed. You can have an impact.
I haven’t been able to figure out how to articulate what World Vision meant to Alex, and what it means to me now. I did a trip in March to the Dominican Republic
with World Vision, to [learn about World Vision, development and] get a house built there.
I was hoping to feel closer to Alex, or understand more what it was she loved so much about this. It’s very hard to put into words, but it touches your soul. It really does. I get it now. When she said to me one person can make a difference, she was right. If we all do our part, we can make a difference. Her dad and I were blessed with the daughter we got. God really truly blessed us. As a mom, I couldn’t be more proud. I hope she knows it.
INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSED AND EDITED.