Friday, March 23, 2012
atem and some pencils
After I read the incredible and amazing book “What is the What” by Dave Eggers, I wanted to get to know some of the “Lost Girls and Boys” of Sudan. There are quite a few who live in the Kansas City area.
Among others, I was fortunate to meet John and Rebecca. John was a “Lost Boy”. They are a beautiful, inspiring couple with two precious children. I have stayed in touch with Rebecca, who recently called to tell me about their son Atem’s pencil project. Atem is one of the most adorable, charming and engaging kids I’ve ever met. He posed for me in my studio, holding the Sudanese flag. Obviously, even though he is very young, he “gets” what helping others is all about. Please read what Atem's proud mother recently wrote about his philanthropic pursuit:
“Atem started his project when he was 6 last year. One night I was watching some YouTube slides about south Sudan, where kids in the villages study under trees. Atem saw that, and he started to ask a lot of questions like: ‘Why are those kids sitting on the floor? Why do they write with their finger in the dirt? Why..??? and Why...?’ many questions like that.
I simply explained to him about the situation in south Sudan and told him the children there don't have any support because of war, and they don't have pencils and papers they can write with… that’s why they use their fingers to write in the dirt.
It was very obvious that my child was shaken by that fact. He went to his room and came back with ten pencils and asked me: ‘Mama, is there any way we can send these ten pencils to the kids of south Sudan? They need them more than me.’
On that day we made a commitment to collect school supplies for children in south Sudan, and I collected 1,000 pencils and 1,000 notebooks and some other material and delivered them when I went to south Sudan last year for the independence celebration.
When I came back, Atem's former teacher Miss Linda Wansing offered to help with the project and created a ministry at her church.
This year Atem's goal is 10,000 pencils.
The original project was about the pencils; however, we are working to build a school for the kids of Wernyol town - a small town where John's family came from. I am so touched by that, and I am giving it all my effort to see Atem achieve his goal to actually help children like him to have quality of education,
About Atem's project - we have collected 7,000 pencils so far this year.”
Isn’t that so wonderful? And, by the way, if you have not read “What is the What”, I say: get going! It’s a fabulous book. And, to Atem, I say: you are a rock star.