"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Monday, December 12, 2011

kids helping kids: guest post by team member suzanne

“‘I was most impressed when I saw what they wanted to be when they are older,’ commented Caroline, an 8th grade student at Mercy Academy in Wisconsin.

It all started with my sharing the story of St. Mary Kevin Orphanage and Change The Truth (CTT) to a Tuesday night knitting group. Jan, one of the knitters in that group, went home and told her two daughters, Caroline (14) and Emily (13) about CTT and the kids at SMK. Caroline watched the video on the CTT website and commented, ‘I was completely changed.’ She emailed me and asked if she could meet with me to talk about some ideas she had about how she could help.

We met one Sunday morning and from that brainstorming session came the idea of making Christmas cards for the kids to be included with their gifts. From that point on Caroline took the project and ran with it. She secured permission from her principal, invited 20 fellow classmates (grades 5-8) reserved the room, made up the blank cards and supplied all the art materials. Her mom made rice krispie (yum!) treats for the kids and after school on May 6th, these new friends of SMK sat in a room and made 180 Christmas cards.

I went to lend support and answer any questions the kids had about Uganda and SMK. They were very interested in their school, what sports they play and what their days are like. I interviewed some of them about why they were doing this. John Paul said, ‘It’s kinda cool to do something for kids half way around the world.’ Mary was an orphan herself in Ethiopia. She said, ‘I know what it’s like to live in an orphanage.’ Mary understands what it means to live in that situation and receive something made especially for you.

When all the cards were made and signed by each artist, I showed them the video that is on the CTT website. You could have heard a pin drop in that room while it was playing. It was as though their worlds had just been expanded from Wisconsin to Uganda. When we were packing up all the cards, I asked Caroline if she had any thoughts about having done this project, and she said, ‘ Since I started this project, I’ve just felt very happy and excited to help people. I plan to do a lot more volunteer work in our local community as well as around the world.’ Perhaps we have fostered a future team member for CTT. Kids helping kids, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Webale (‘thank you’ in Ugandan) to Caroline Arnold for her inspiration and vision to reach out and help…and to the students from Mercy Academy (listed below). Thanks also to Caroline’s mom, Jan, for all the yummy treats, including this giant map of a cookie.

Students who made the cards: Mary Rose, JP, Jon, Meg, Mary, Charlie, Matt, Emil, Keara, Oliver, Andy, Mary, Katie, Annie, Peter, Marlena, Thomas and Sam.”

- Suzanne Garr

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