Today we held the first of many Student Ties activities today at the LDS Academy. This is a group of homeschooled children who have been partnered with an LDS community school in Abundancia, Paraguay.
We talked about what it means to be a humanitarian and why it is important to learn about other people around the world. One of the kids noted that we need to know about each other in order to learn. Brilliant! We found Paraguay on the map and talked about what it might be like to live there. One of the kids I helped showed me that he had lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for several years. That’s right next door to Paraguay. To finished, we tied on friendship bracelets in a pledge to be kind, help those around us, and reach out to kids around the world in support of education!
These students are making due with classes held in tents and surviving buildings left after the earthquake in April. Even in the midst of a devastating experience, students remain dedicated to the one thing that can change and improve their lives: education!
They even have their friendship bracelets made and ready to share with others!
We can’t wait to find them the perfect partner school!
A few days ago, I met with our wonderful school in Columbia on Skype! It was really great to meet with them “face to face” and talk about the Student Ties project with them. They have a wonderful team there with great desires to help the children that attend school. Most of the kids are not able to pay for all of the school supplies they need. The school does a lot to help them and Student Ties hopes to aid in this effort. We are excited to get to know them better and make education possible for every child!
Here we are being silly with the ladies from God’s Awesome Army Ministries! We spent a wonderful evening with them sharing the School Ties project and stories from our experiences. We also took some bracelets from Kenya and Haiti to share and the ladies gave generous donations to support education! It was a really great time reading scripture and speaking from the heart.
This all happened because of our wonderful dental hygienist MJ! The girls actually look forward to getting their teeth clean because of her! The girls shared our project with her at our last appointment and she invited us to come tell her group about it! It’s pretty amazing what can happen while simply sitting in a dental chair!
The talented group at Haude elementary wrapped up School Ties with a bang! The club sent home a donation letter for kids and families to buy friendship bracelets to support the students in Haiti. The response was wonderful! The sale raise close to $400!!! Wow! Many generous people making an effort to help students around the world! Thanks to everyone involved! Kids, with a little help from their teachers, can make a huge impact for good! Power to the Kid!
The school staff in Haiti is currently working on creating a Bon Lavi line of bracelets! We hope to sell these in stores and online. If you have any connections give us a shout!
School Ties is excited to add some new educational experience for students next year! Help us make it happen at our GoFundMe site!
In a previous post I mentioned some of the responses from students at our school after seeing pictures of students in Haiti. One brave student spoke the words that were probably on many minds, “They are sad because they don’t have any stuff like we have.” We had to take a minute to look back through the photos to see if the children in Haiti looked sad. We decided they did not!
I am happy to report that the old phrase, “Money can’t buy happiness” is after all, true! I think we all question that saying from time to time, as we smile over our new shoes and clean furniture. Sure, we don’t need a room full of stuffed animals to be happy, but buying a cold ice cream on a hot day, does create a certain amount of satisfaction, does it not?
As I visited school after school of children learning without pencils and paper, without text books, and even without a pair of matching shoes, I noticed one overriding feeling in the classroom; JOY! These kids were happy kids. They had almost nothing that they needed and yet, they could sing and dance the day away. Without any stuff involved, there was happiness.
My few short days in Haiti filled me with happiness as I looked into the eyes of the children and saw a desire to learn, create, and grow. All that I saw made me ask myself, “What about stuff?” Why do we need our things and our shoes and our furniture so desperately that we would choose to care about things more than people? Are our own collections and trinkets more important than dreams? Do we really need a closet full of clothes so much that we can’t part with some of it in order to change a life for the better?
While the kids of Haiti and I danced the Hokey Pokey, we all learned a little bit more about where happiness comes from.
It’s hard to learn to read and write when basic school supplies are out of reach. The kids I visited were beyond excited to use paper and colored pencils. Although it was difficult, they did their best to pass around the colors for everyone to try. It was fun to give them a moment as artists. They have a lot of pictures in their hearts!
We had a meeting at Reynolds Elementary on Tuesday. We shared pictures and talked about Haiti, where it is, its’ capital, its’ history, and its’ students! We are also organizing a sanitation kit drive to support our soldiers. Sometimes it’s hard to understand war and peace. We talked about current events and times throughout history that war might have been important in establishing peace and safety for people.
This week we held our first meeting at Haude Elementary! It’s been a while in the making, but it finally happened and it was perfect! Kelly Sells headed up the meeting sharing pictures from our partner school in Haiti. We talked about the similarities and differences that the students noticed between themselves and the Haitian students. “They wear uniforms there, we don’t.” “They grow food in their school garden, we don’t.” “They are sad because they don’t have any stuff like we have.” WAIT!!! Hold the phone! We had to back up to the pictures to see if this was true. When we looked again, we saw lots of smiles! It is something to think about! Can kids be happy without all of the STUFF?? In the end, the students decided it looks like the Haitian students are kids just like them.
Some of the students also got a chance to be a humanitarian on the spot during our friendship bracelet making program. All of the kids got string to make a bracelet to wear as a reminder to be kind, help others, and spread friendship. Since all of the kids didn’t know how to braid, those who did took the time to help out! It’s pretty fun to see kids helping kids make friendship bracelets! We talked about what it means to be a humanitarian and the choice we often have to spread anger or change a situation for the better. It only seems fair sometimes to push back when we are pushed. But, as one student put it, that is NOT a solution. And she is right. Pushing, name calling, gossip, and disrespect will never end if we just pay it back or spread it around. We have to stop all of that, decide to change the ripple effect of hate, pass some love around instead. We decided that we would look for ways to help each other as members of the club, as students at Haude, as community members, and in our families. Humanitarians!!!