Swedish 9-Year-Old Milla Martin Raises Money for Famine Victims with Cinnamon Buns

By: Cyndi Amaya

While many times we see or hear news about atrocities in other countries, most of us can be accused of apathy due to our lack of effort to actually try and help. When news broke out of the famine in the Horn of Africa, many chipped in with donations for the famine victims upon hearing of the millions that would be affected.

Even our own Marcus Samuelsson hosted a brunch in this own home to raise fund for the afflicted which was then brought directly to those suffering by his lovely wife Maya.

Aside from his strong philanthropic leaning, clearly Marcus' strong ties and origin from Ethiopia would draw his attention and earnest to help. But few times do we see someone with no direct connection pitch in to help remedy a situation (Kony campaign aside).

Thankfully, this was not the case for 9-year-old Milla Martin from Sweden. So moved from news stories and photographs of children, like herself, starving in Africa, Milla launched her own campaign to raise money for famine victims in Ethiopia. Through the sales of her cinnamon buns and calling for hundreds of Swedish children to join in the campaign, Milla was able to collect more than 200.000 Kronor (about $35,000) to help the starving children in Africa.

I was able to connect with Milla and her father, Henrik for a quick interview on how she started her bake sale fundraising. Check out Milla's story in her own words...

How did you first hear about the famine in Africa?

We talked a lot about it at home, since it was all over the news last summer. I saw many terrible pictures with starving kids both in the newspapers and on the television, they were so thin. It was awful.

What made you want to do something to help?

I felt frustrated and angry that the world is so unfair. We have so much food and so many things, and they have nothing. It must hurt a lot to starve. So I felt I had to do something.

Tell me about your fundraiser.

I don't have any money, and no job. I am only nine, you know. So I realized I had to sell something to raise money for the starving children. I really like cinnamon buns, so I figured I could bake some and sell them. Most people in Sweden like cinnamon buns.

But I needed to find a place where there were lots of people. So I went to the local supermarket and asked if I could sell my cinnamon buns outside their entrance. They were very kind. They even suggested that they could bake the cinnamon buns for me. So they baked 200 cinnamon buns that it took an hour for me to sell (I charged about US$ 2 per cinnamon bun, since that is the amount needed to save one starving child.)

Then I donated the money to a Swedish charity that focuses on Africa's Horn. That felt very good, and I realized that many more Swedish children can do this. So I started a blog and a Bacebook page called "Bullhjalpen" (the Cinnamon Bun Aid).

How much do you want to raise in total? and How can people help?

Thanks to the blog and Facebook, and some newspaper articles, the word has spread in Sweden. Thousands of children have now sold cinnamon buns and donated the money to the charity I donated to. In total, we have raised more than US$ 35,000. That's a lot of money, I think. I really don't have a goal, I just want us to send money until the children have stopped starving. The world is still unfair, you know. It would be great if children in the US could start doing the same thing!

Do you plan to help other causes in the future, too?

I think I would like to help with other causes too. I have learned so much and it feels very good to help people who are not as fortunate as me. But right now I want to focus on the children in Africa, there is still so much to do for them.

Click here to read Milla Martin's blog (in Swedish). To see how you too can help famine victims, check out ways to donate by clicking here. 

Photos courtesy of Henrik Martin

For more interviews and updates, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)