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Pencils for Kids - Our Journey Together

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S: Pencils for Kids - Our Journey Together

1: It all started in 2005 During "The Games of La Francophonie” in Niger, West Africa, a group of Canadian athletes visited a school in Liboré, a rural area outside Niamey, the capital of Niger, which is considered one the poorest countries in the world.

2: What they saw shocked them. Thirty children in one classroom were sharing ONE pencil. There were few books and fewer supplies, no electricity and no running water. The Canadian athletes were warmly received by the community as they gave out school supplies they brought with them from Canada.

3: Back in Canada After the games, when Robin heard the story from Dan, one of the photographers for Team Canada, she contacted the Canadian Consulate in Niger who put her in touch with Amadou Madougou, Mayor of Liboré, a commune of 24,500 people, 20 minutes outside of Niamey. With the commune's "wish list" in hand, a newly created Pencils for Kids' team began collecting school supplies that were so desperately needed, and sending them over. Donations poured in from wonderful companies and individuals, but we knew to make a lasting difference we had to visit the people in Liboré and see for ourselves the problems firsthand.

4: First Visit May 2007

5: In May of 2007, we flew to Niger to meet the Mayor, Amadou Madougou, the Chef de Canton and the people of Liboré. This commune has over 15 villages spanning 100 square km. They are the kindest, nicest and most hospitable people. During the visit Robin introduced the Mayor to the Canadian consulate, attended a welcoming reception at a school, and met with the Chef of Oulmantama and the villagers there. By the time we were done, we understood more about this community and their desire for education. It was time to act.

7: After visiting Liboré in May 2007, the relationship between Pencils for Kids and the community was forever forged. The Mayor and his team submitted a proposal to the local Canadian Consulate and shortly thereafter funds were granted to build the first Pencils for Kids' school in Oulmantama, a village that never before had any access to education. The first desk in the school has Peter Enti's name engraved on it, as he was the first donor who gave money to Pencils for Kids. Pencils for Kids became a registered Canadian charity and remains entirely volunteer-run, with less than 5% administration costs.

8: Oulmantama - First Pencils for Kids' School November 2007

9: In November of 2007, we returned to Niger for the opening of the first Pencils for Kids' school, financed by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Our visit had opened the door to this important milestone. Today over 100 students attend the Pencils for Kids' school in Oulmantama. This is how Pencils for Kids was born - one village at a time, one child at a time and one pencil at a time.

10: Amazing donations of supplies and books from generous donors

11: Rotary Club Wells Rotary clubs, under the leadership of Rotarian Carl Vahl, and local Rotarian Gaston Kaba and his team, have drilled over 50 wells in Liboré. Pencils for Kids introduced Carl to the community of Liboré in 2007. Since then, women and children no longer have to walk long distances for clean water, allowing children to spend more time in school.

12: Wear-A-Pencil Campaign 2007

13: The wear-a-pencil campaign encourages everyone to wear a pencil until every child in the world has a pencil. It is a symbol of education, literacy and hope. The pencil necklace was created for Pencils for Kids by Tchihma Abdo, a native of Niger. He uses natural rock found in Niger and each necklace is individually crafted by him and his team of artisans.

14: Theatre and Reading Programs September 2008 | Louise introduced Theatre and Reading programs to the students in Liboré in 2008, encouraging them to express themselves and realize their own potential. As a result, the programs built their self-esteem and let them know the world was filled with possibilities.

15: Gorouberi Garden 2009 In the village of Gorouberi, Pencils for Kids, with support from Kiva Gardens, started a women's garden with a few plants and a moto pump. Today, because of the women's determination, it is a successful co-op with women sharing responsibility and profits.

16: Pen Pals Friendship across the world | Children in Toronto, Canada and children in Liboré, Niger began pen pal relationships in 2006 writing letters, sending art and exchanging scrapbooks. It has enriched countless students in many classrooms over the years.

17: Library 2008 | In 2008, Pencils for Kids built the first community library in Liboré. It was named Bibliotheque DHL in honour of DHL's tremendous contributions of shipping over the first few years of Pencils for Kids' existence. | `

18: In 2008, 8 year old Clara raised enough money to build Clara's Kids, a kindergarten in Liboré that teaches 3-5 year old children. It is one of 10 kindergartens that have been sponsored by Pencils for Kids to give children a head start in their education. | Clara's Kids Kindergarten 2008 | `

19: Each of these kindergartens has a shade hangar erected by the community, a government-sponsored teacher, and furnishings and resources supplied by Pencils for Kids. Clara's Kids is the first one to get a permanent building, thanks to Clara and her family's ongoing support. | Kindergartens 2008

20: Soccer for Kids Began in 2007 | In 2007, Mike Mitchell followed his dream to bring soccer balls to Niger and has continued to support a full soccer program, with leagues, coaches and referees. As the leader of Pencils for Kids' Soccer for Kids program he hopes one day to see Niger participate in the World Cup. It starts with one child and one ball!

21: The Soccer for Kids' program is now in every school and every village in Liboré. There are tournaments and inter-commune play, as Liboré has shared its additional balls with neighbouring communes. The excitement on competition days fills the air!

22: Farmers of the Future 2010 | Farmers of the Future (FOF) is the vision of Professor Dov Pasternak, supported by Pencils for Kids (Canada) and Eliminate Poverty Now (USA) and managed by the local ONG, LIBO. To eradicate poverty, agriculture should be seen as a business, not merely a way to subsist. For this to happen, one needs to change the mindset of farmers. This change can best be accomplished by educating young people. That is the goal of Farmers of the Future.

23: Parents, particularly mothers, are given plots of land adjacent to the schools to produce a number of income generating activities such as fruit trees nurseries, vegetable gardens and small animal fattening. Teachers are trained to teach the children the theoretical aspects of market-oriented agriculture. Children practice in their parents' fields. It is the hope of Farmers of the Future to expand to many more villages and schools in Niger.

24: a | Farmers of the Future Members of the team and enthusiastic supporters...

25: Teaching has been at the heart of the Farmers of the Future program. The Ministry of Education, the teachers, the technicians and the leaders of the community and of LIBO, with the guidance of Professor Pasternak, have helped lay the foundation for the Farmers of the Future.

26: Farmers of the Future transforms...

27: Disabled in Goninta Handmade volleyballs & chairs Pencils for Kids supports the disabled community in Goninta by purchasing their hand-made volleyballs and chairs. The chairs are then rented out for special events by our partner, ONG LIBO, with all proceeds helping Pencils for Kids' Cooper Sewing Centre.

28: Cooper's Sewing Centre 2009

29: Girls learn new skills that will help them earn an income. They design and sew clothing, dye fabrics, make cosmetics and have classes in literacy. The sewing store markets and sells their products. In the future, a larger Cooper's Sewing Centre will be built upon land that has already been purchased for this purpose.

30: Vive la Vie School 2010 | Pencils For Kids' second school, Vive la Vie opened in 2010 in a ceremony with singing, dancing and waving Canadian and Nigerien flags!

31: Pencil for Kids' third school, Ecole d'Espoir opened in the village of Gorouberi. It was the very first school ever built in this village. | Gorouberi School/Ecole d'Espoir 2011

32: Scholarships for Girls Began in 2009 | The Scholarships for Girls program began in 2009 with just four girls in Secondary School. By 2012, one of Pencils for Kids' first scholarship recipients, Hassiatou Karimou, became Liboré's first female graduate from Amadou Madougou Secondary School. She is now enrolled in University.

33: In 2013, she was followed by seven more girls. All graduates have received laptops from Pencils for Kids, presented in a special ceremony by some of Niger's most prominent and accomplished women, including Niger's former Ambassador to Canada. Their message to the graduates - "You can do anything you want in life - follow your dreams and never give up". The teachers of Liboré work hard to help these young women achieve their goals.

34: In February 2010, ORBIS brought its flying eye hospital to Niger, facilitated through Pencils for Kids, and provided two week training for the eye doctors in the country. They also examined 400 women, children and men in Liboré, and 95 of them received follow up eye-saving surgery and care. | ORBIS Training February 2010

35: Training the midwives, sending first aid kits and eye glasses and equipping the medical clinic are a few of the health initiatives of Pencils for Kids.

36: Heavy floods affect 1/3 of Liboré Summer 2012

37: Massive flooding destroys crops and homes in Liboré. Pencils for Kids' supporters responded generously to enable the purchase of rice, bed nets and medicine. | Donated bags of rice ready for distribution.

38: Members of Liboré's community speak about what matters to them. | "I want my children to go to school, because he who does not study is like a blind man." | "Pay attention to each other. Look after each other." | "Nothing is more valuable than education."

39: "When my children grow up, I want them to pass their knowledge to others." | "The most important thing in life is family." | "I hope my children will contribute to the development of the country."

40: Pencils for Kids Executive | As members of the Pencils for Kids’ Executive, we are happy to devote our time and energy to providing the children of Liboré with brighter opportunities for their future. We have learned so much on this journey and are grateful for the wonderful friends we have made.

41: David Crombie, Chair of the Advisory Board Robin Mednick, President & Executive Director Dan Galbraith, Vice Chair and Director of Photography/Videography Michael Williams, Vice President & Director of Strategic Connections Molly Killingbeck, Chair & Director of Educational Activity Ian Chalmers, Vice Chair & Director of Communications Louise Sherman, Program Director and Treasurer Gilda Rovan, Executive Business Manager David Kraft, Executive Chair Carolyn Taylor, Executive Advisor Brad Gibson, Fundraising Chair Rhonda MacDonald, Funding Coordinator

42: The LIBO Team | ONG LIBO, under the leadership of Hamani Djibo, has implemented all of our programs and projects with energy, enthusiasm and heart.

43: Thank you Liboré for sharing your stories with us for inviting us into your homes for inspiring us with your determination to improve the lives of your children for your grace, your kindness and your trust and for your friendship, above all. Thank you to all our supporters and volunteers for taking this journey with us for enriching us beyond measure with your generosity, humanity and spirit. It is just the beginning...

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  • Title: Pencils for Kids - Our Journey Together
  • Pencils for Kids began quite by accident in December 2005 when Dan Galbraith, a photographer for the Canadian Team at the Games of la Francophonie, witnessed the devastating poverty in Niger, the host country for the Games. Back home, when he told the story of 30 children sharing one pencil in a classroom, a few in Toronto, Canada were moved to act. That moment turned into an eight-year journey and friendship with the community of Liboré, in Niger. Since that time, Pencils for Kids has built schools, provided resources and developed programs that give the people of Liboré an opportunity to be educated and earn an income. Our journey is depicted in photos, representing many of these projects and initiatives. It is a journey that continues to this day, inspiring all who have had the privilege of participating.
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  • Published: almost 6 years ago