Ask any first grader and they will tell you a pen pal is “smaller than a house but larger than an apartment.” Another young chap raised his hand and stated “it is a house for animals.” Don’t you agree they are both good answers but do you remember what a pen pal is?
Another question asked, “Where is Malawi, Africa?” One girl raised her hand and told me her grandpa was born in Africa but she didn’t know where it was on the map. Can you find Malawi without looking on your smart phone?
I had the pleasure of presenting to a first grade class in Silicon Valley the importance of cultural awareness including differences and similarities. In Malawi, they might not see deer, horses, squirrels or cows. Instead they might see elephants, zebras and what we think of as “exotic” animals in the wilderness. I showed them the different hospitals. For example what does the Stanford Children’s Hospital look like compared to Blessings Hospital? Please click on the links and look for yourselves.
As the presentation went on, the children asked why are they dancing in the dirt? They all started to laugh when someone yelled out “They aren’t wearing shoes!”
I took a survey and the first graders have a minimum of three pairs of shoes. I explained to them that just maybe they are saving their shoes for church on Sunday. The first graders looked confused and asked WHY? Yes, my friend, do you know the reason they have only a pair of shoes?
The children were given the task to write about themselves. Introduce themselves, their age and their likes. A few of the boys asked, “How do you spell MineCraft?” but the majority wrote about their love for riding bikes.
This pen pal exchange is facilitated by Kusewera.org. They provide a pen pal exchange for classes to connect with the children in Malawi, Africa. More than a pen pal exchange program, Kusewera’s mission is to “empower and educate children in impoverished countries through active and creative play.” They create affordable humanitarian service projects through their implementation of Kusewera Empowerement & Educational Program (K.E.E.P). One long term goal is to build a Community Center, Sports Complex & Volunteer Guest House in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Doesn’t the thought of foreign travel get you excited, a real adventure? Instead of saying, “I wish I had time to volunteer and make a difference in a young person’s life…” Now you can. Please take a look at the Kusewera service trips offered.
In May, after the Kusewera volunteers return from their trip the children in Silicon Valley will receive letters from their pen pals in Malawi. Although, Silicon Valley and Malawi are worlds and riches apart children are the same in every land.