ABU DHABI // Aaliyah North is only 9 but she is already aware that some children live very different lives from her own.
The little girl wanted so much to help children in need that she chose to do without presents for her birthday last week.
Instead, after seeing an advert for Operation Smile, she asked for money to donate to the charity.
Her parents offered to match what she raised, bringing the total to Dh10,430. Each cleft lip or palate operation costs an average of Dh880, so her efforts will pay for nearly 12.
"Everyone is so proud of her," said Aaliyah's mother Joanne, 36, a teacher from the UK.
"Aaliyah is a very caring, very loving, very sensitive child herself. She is not shouting about it. She is very humble."
Aaliyah presented the money to Operation Smile UAE in Abu Dhabi this week.
While there she got to meet Gia Navas, who was born with a cleft lip and palate and received help from the charity.
"I never thought I would raise that much. It's nice to see how it helps people," Aaliyah said.
"That was very, very, very incredible. I don't know how she had that idea in her head. It was very good. I like it very much," said Gia.