I have to share these photos with you, because they just thrill my heart. These are the children, the ones with the eyes-that-have-seen-too-much, that are benefitting from the books sent to the refugee camps in northern Iraq. David Godoy, who volunteered there in the fall, took these photos of some of his English students with the beginner science readers we hastily scraped together to send along in a suitcase. It was about $300 worth, a pitifully small offering for so many, many children. I made a big goal this time, to raise $2000, which Literacy for a Lifetime will match by 50%. So that is 10 times as much, and with some donations received privately, not through the website, we are over half way to the goal!
I asked David to describe his classes, then put his story on the Youcaring site, but it deserves a wider audience. Nearly all of the donations have come from you kind, generous folks who read the blog. I feel very humbled by this, so I am copying David’s words here for you to read just what it means to receive a book, with pictures, with fresh ideas, with new things to learn about the wider world in it.
“Writing about the time I spent with the Yazidi children in Kurdistan, Iraq could possibly fill many pages with various happy, sad, or whimsical occurrences that I experienced. My aim with this is not to get carried away with many details but rather to condense several weeks into a few paragraphs in the hopes of influencing your mind to understand the need there among not only the adults but especially the children.
I taught English classes to the village boys ranging from ages five to
fourteen or fifteen. The day started around nine o’clock with the five
to seven year old boys. After going over the alphabet, the colors of
different objects, shapes, and so on for about an hour the children
from all the different classes would meet in a courtyard area and sing
children’s choruses at the top of their lungs. It was always enjoyable
to listen to them and also to sing with them and perform the motions
to many of the songs.
After two hours of classes in the morning school was adjourned until the afternoon. It seemed to me that along with the dry, 100+ degree weather a Middle Eastern summer afternoon brings the 15 ten to twelve year old boys of the first afternoon class also brought along to school their heated tempers and everything else that made the
afternoon much warmer due to the rise in frustrations. One would think the heat alone would bring a calming affect but it was quite opposite.
They would hoot and holler through the alphabet at varying speeds,
climb around on the desks and each other, spill water so they would
have the joy of splashing it around, get into fights, steal each
other’s pencils, and do everything except sit like good boys who are
trying to learn what a circle is, and that orange is a color and not
the fifth letter of the alphabet.
The singing after that class was always held by ourselves in our class
room as the other classes were similar in student attitude and would
have been next to impossible to maintain structured singing period.
After the dust settled and the room was put back into a presentable
state my last and favorite class would come in. There were usually
only four or five of them and they were the most advanced in English.
They could very easily recite the alphabet and could read small easy
phrases. The comprehension may not have been there but they are off to a good start.
All this being said there is one tool that I found extremely helpful
in the different things I taught them. Two weeks into my stay in Iraq
a wise and generous person donated a few of these tools to the school
over there and some of them were accepted very happily as a gift for
excellent learning by some of my students while I used the remain onesin my teaching.
What was this tool you may ask? It was a book! Yes, a book. Something that here in America I have taken very much for granted and have, to a degree, lost touch with the immense value and information that even a simple child’s picture book can bring.
Charles Darwin in his skewed philosophy was able to influence and
change the mindset of millions of people all through the power of a
book. And when the age group is too young to comprehend the stages of evolution, artists come up with the most absurd pictures
illustrating the process of evolution staring from a standard ape and transitioning into a creature I hope never to meet then finally ending with a human.
The sad part of it is all that information is taken in and processed
by many school age children shaping there minds into believing a lie.
Why did I mention this?
The same kind of approach can be taken with the Iraqi children. But
instead of pumping their heads full of artists perspectives of
nonsense wouldn’t it be better for them to see in detailed pictures
what the steps of a metamorphosis are? Or what the Himalayas look
like? Or what the earth looks like from space? Or how many continents there are?
If a Yazidi child can look at these things and process them in childlike manner they may begin to see that outside their torn apart
lives exists a bigger world, a world that is also looking for answers in
their desperation for the true meaning to life. The children may
slowly begin to understand that maybe there is a higher power that
created the world they live in, maybe there is forgiveness, and that
the Light and Love they sing about does really exist.
A book can go a very long way in influencing a child’s mind. Even if
they are taught from a reader, what they learn will form words in
their mind giving them the ability to one day comprehend the Book that has the key to eternal life.
I will always remember the uncontainable smile the gift of books
brought to my little students. The way they proudly shook my hand on the way out of the room that last day of school helped me to see
that one little picture book may be one tiny stepping stone in the walk way towards a better life. But if eternal life is gained through the small gift of a book, I would give every last book I have.
I look back over my time spent in Iraq and am greatly humbled by the fact that God uses all sorts of ways to show His love to the precious people of Iraq.”
There you have it, the cause that I feel passionately about: the children and literacy. When I see those little faces in the news, I think that they will grow up to be either the next generation of fighters or peacemakers. So much depends on now, on the influences that come into their lives. As David so eloquently pointed out, books can introduce a child to a whole other world. (I want to sincerely apologize for the fomat of the quote. WordPress is giving me fits tonight, no matter how much I edit. This is a problem with blogging on a budget, also known as free blogsites. : } You don’t get so many pretties. )
Many of us cannot volunteer to go to the camps, but we can share. I thank you. Some day, I believe, there will be children who have received Love and they will thank you. I put more of the photos on the sharing site, if you would like to take a look. When you go there, read the comment from a little girl named Ellie. It brings tears to my eyes and a nod to some wise parents who are raising their children to be kingdom-minded.
If God moves your heart to help us (<Click there, obviously) reach the last half of our fundraising goal, I thank you in advance.