California kids surpass butterfly goal to raise awareness for migrant children in detention

A group of Bay Area kids not only reached, but surpassed, their goal in creating paper butterflies to represent the migrant children being detained in the United States. 

Alameda parent, Dr. Jyothi Marbin, said her daughter and friends - and strangers who joined in their effort - have handcrafted more than 18,000 butterflies, when their original goal had been to create 15,000 - one for every estimated child seeking asylum who is being held in federal custody.

Instead of stopping, Marbin said the youth leaders are going to keep making butterflies until all the children are freed from detention.

"We're not free until you're free," a group of children from The Butterfly Effect chanted in a YouTube announcement. 

Marbin's 11-year-old daughter Kaia Marbin was inspired to launch the project after hearing a report on the radio about the number of children detained after crossing the border. She joined up with her friend, Lily Ellis, 10, who attends Berkeley Arts Magnet School, to see if they could get friends and others to help create paper butterflies to show how large that number is. 

The girls soon collaborated with CultureStrike in Oakland, a social justice art community, and Alphabet Rockers in Emeryville, a "music makes change" nonprofit where Lily attends.  The musicians started helping get the word out about the girls' project and they've produced what is now the girls' theme song, "Until You're Free."  Destiny Arts Center also joined in. 

Along the way, Amnesty International learned of the project and offered to help spread the word, as did the office of Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley. 

The group plans to hold a youth-led rally on Nov. 16 from 4 to 5 p.m. at Lake Merritt to show off the butterflies. And at some point, Marbin said, the children hope to go down to the border to bring the butterflies there. 

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED: To learn about The Butterfly Effect, click here.