Kids and Community Service

French Booklets are a Great Success

Once again we are so grateful to teacher John and his French 2 students from Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center in Chicago.  The students have created a set of 100 beautifully written and illustrated books and sent them to us to share with Haitian children.

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Our friend Susy, of Haitian Education Initiatives was headed to Jacmel, Haiti.  She promised to bring the books directly to her students in Haiti.

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Susy writes,

Many thanks to John, your students, and the members of Wonderland BookSavers for creating, donating and distributing the charming illustrated stories for the children at Haitian Educational Initiatives’ Cayes-Jacmel campus.

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The children absolutely loved them!

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It was a hot, sunny Saturday morning in early May at our weekend craft, feeding, and job training program and the Papillons (30 kids aged 3-9) had just finished making headbands as their craft project. They were charged with sitting quietly for 15 minutes until lunch was served and you can imagine how hard that was for them to do! Fortunately, I had your books with me and distributed a pile at each table.

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The children opened them up at once. Some at the far end were worried they might not get one but there were plenty for everybody. They marveled at the stories and illustrations, reading aloud rather than silently, as is their custom. There was a lot of trading around so the children could sample several, then they took turns reading their book to the whole group. 

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Book-making is a novel idea in Haiti: kids are not offered creative challenges like John’s students are. Since most Haitian students learn by rote and don’t have creative materials at home or at school, they don’t get to draw and write imaginatively. Your books truly astounded them. Thank you for providing such pleasure and inspiration! Congratulations to all the American students, teachers, and organizers who made this project possible. It was a great success.

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John wrote,

Thank you so much for the photos and kind letter. I read it to all of my French 2 classes yesterday. I also showed it to my principal and it made her cry 🙂 I am so happy we have continued this relationship and hope to have even better books next year!

If your class is interested in participating in this amazing project, we know children all over the world would enjoy your novel creations! Send us a note, and tell us what language you would like to explore!

June Trembles like a Butterfly – Neruda

As we stumble headlong through spring into summer, we eagerly set aside schoolbooks in favor of all our summer reading favorites.  There is nothing more magical than designing our own Wizard of Oz Summer Camp at Pequot Library. In the words of L. Frank Baum,

“Folklore legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal.  The winged fairies of Grim and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish heats than all other human creations.”

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We begin our day with baseball warm-up,

and then since our theme is everything Oz, we really begin with the Story of Oz.

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 the very first thing we come across is instructions: Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

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“If we walk far enough” says Dorothy, “we shall sometime come to someplace.”

The Yellow Brick Road leads right back to the Library; time to choose Summer books.

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and now: Wizard of Oz Bingo

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And everyone’s favorite, snack time: green food, of course!

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Building the Emerald City from green glitter and glue:

“You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz. “All you need is confidence in yourself.  There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger.  The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.”

Glitter Tornado in a Bottle

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Being Wonderland BookSavers, we had to collect shoes for our African friends, these ones were hand painted by students at a local school.  Here, we organized and packaged them, “Click your heels together 3 times, There’s no place like home.”

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“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.”

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Outdoor games!

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Inside: The Tornado Swirl, a purely Oz version of Musical Chairs with a Twist

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Wizard of Oz Puzzles and Word Search

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A trip to the Rare Books Special Collection room to read original Oz books, enjoyed by children over 100 years ago. What were their summers like?

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And finally, of course, our famous Lemonade for Literacy!

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Over $1,500 dollars donated directly to Pequot Library for children’s literacy programs, thousands of books purchased for our Zimbabwe and South Africa donations, hundreds of shoes sent to South America and Zimbabwe, lots of fun for us and our campers, as well as a new adventure: The Wizard of Oz!

As Henry James said, “Summer afternoon: the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Join us for our next camp: Summer by the Sea, in July! (pequot library.org)

Comfort and Safety instead of Trafficking by Emma

We were introduced to the organization Love146 through a sermon given by a nun at St. Thomas Church. We were shocked to learn that child trafficking is prevalent in our area. We learned that approximately 20-30 million individuals are enslaved today and about 30 percent of those people are children.

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Love 146 is an international organization. We were privileged to visit their headquarters in New Haven, CT.  Here we discovered the extent of the abuses against children and young adults.

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“The trafficking and exploitation of children is one of the darkest stories and most severe human rights abuses imaginable. But for us, the hope of ending it is a reality. Love146 is providing effective and thoughtful solutions while helping grow the movement to end child trafficking. We believe in the power of love and its ability to effect sustainable change. Love is the foundation of our motivation. Love is the foundation of our name because it is our motivating drive to end the trafficking and exploitation of children.” Love 146

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In an attempt to add a glimmer of hope and comfort to these people, Wonderland BookSavers made and provided blankets for trafficked children by recruiting the help of our communities.

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As always, we strive to involve as many community members as possible in our endeavors, so that we can share the donation of love as well as spread the Love146 message: child trafficking is present in our society and we must all be aware and stop this terrible crime against children.

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We brought our blanket-making supplies to Connecticut College where we were aided by the Connecticut College Christian Fellowship group, as well as several students at the US Coast Guard Academy.

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We wrapped up the event by packaging the newly made blankets in the amazing hand-painted bags made by the students at Wetherbee School in Lawrence, MA. We added our favorite children’s poetry books to the packages. We are glad that we had the opportunity to create these small gifts for those who are rescued and seek safety and security.

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When completed, we brought several dozen gift bags filled with cozy blankets and cheerful poetry to help ease the transition of children who come to Love146 seeking solace and protection. These will be joined with packages of food, disposable cell phones and health products, to make survival-care packages for children in need. We are grateful to assist Love 146 in their mission of caring for children who are out of options.

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We Are Judged by Our Deeds, by H. Brooks

Laborious Iciducamur, this means we are judged by are deeds. This is my school’s motto. My name is Henry Brooks.  I attend Fairfield Country Day School in Fairfield, CT. I am currently 14 and in the 8th grade. Recently, my school hosted a clothing and shoe drive for our charity, the Wonderland BookSavers.

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Many of my fellow students and families generously donated their gently used items.

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After several weeks, we received ten enormous bags full of clothing and five large bags of shoes.

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We will be adding these items to a collection we are making with Wetherbee School in Lawrence, MA. We are also partnering with 50 other schools in NYC. 

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Collectively, we will fill two enormous shipping containers with clothing, school supplies, cooking supplies and household goods where they will be loaded on to a boat headed for Bangladesh. Eventually, these supplies will reach the Rohingya refugees residing in Bangladesh.  

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Bangladesh is a country in South Asia that is located between India and Myanmar. It is the world’s eighth most populous country. Recently, violence in Myanmar has escalated and as a result, the number of refugees in Bangladesh has increased rapidly. Since August 25th, 2017, more than 700,000 refugees fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Including the refugees that had come in years prior, there are now more than 1.1 million Rohingya refugees in the country. Overcrowding is now a huge problem in the Rohingya refugee camps. The refugees a lack of access to services, clean water, proper sanitation, education, and food.

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We hope that the generous donations from my school can provide some relief to these refugees. Wonderland BookSavers is grateful for having  supportive community partners, such as Fairfield Country Day School.

National History Day Inspired by Commitment to Community

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This year as we set out to choose our NHD topic, based upon the 2018 theme, Conflict and Compromise, we thought back to our summer adventures on the Lakota Indian reservations, and we knew we had an historical story that needed to be explored.

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As we traveled throughout South Dakota, and witnessed first hand the difficulties encountered by present day Lakota’s, we asked ourselves, Why? and How did this happen?

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Location: Battle of Little Big Horn (Custard’s last Stand)

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Extensive research, that took us from South Dakota to Washington DC, NYC and back to CT, provided us with the information we needed to create our Nationally competitive theater performance, “From Sea to Shining Sea: The Conflict Over the Fort Laramie Treaties that Compromised American Values.” 

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We opened with a reminder of our founders’ original pledge to all Americans, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal…”

 

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We described battles won and lost between settlers and Indians, underscoring their differing perspectives.

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Sadly, as we quoted Rev. Burrell from the 1800’s, we found his words as applicable today as they were over 150 years ago,

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“Who shall be responsible for this event so dark and sorrowful? The history of our dealings with these Indian tribes from the very beginning is a record of fraud, and perjury, and uninterrupted injustice. We have made treaties, binding ourselves to the most solemn promises in the name of God, intending at that very time to hold these treaties light as air whenever our convenience should require them to be broken…. We have driven them each year further from their original homes and hunting- grounds…. We have treated them as having no rights at all…. We have made beggars of them.”

Black-Snake-poster-1-We did not fail to mention that the Keystone XL pipeline of 2016 continues to impinge upon Indian land and neglected agreements stemming from the original 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty. Notwithstanding assurances that, “These new pipelines are among the most technologically advanced ever constructed and exceed many state and federal guidelines.” (Craig Stevens, 2016), on November 18, 2017 South Dakota’s Keystone Pipeline spilled approximately 210 thousand gallons of oil into Amherst South Dakota.

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Liv sang “America the Beautiful,” reminding us that we are all Americans, striving for equality and a worthy life.

red cloud 2 We closed with Red Clouds famous words, They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.”

After 6 months of research, discussions and multiple performances, we finally had the answer to our question.

Current conditions on the Pine Ridge reservation are a direct result of the failure of the US government to live up to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.

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Our team was honored to receive the Native American Award at the NHD National Contest in Washington DC.

IMG_3746We received $1,000 in prize money, and we knew immediately that we had one more place to go before our 2018 NHD project was complete.

IMG_3757 (1)Back to Red Cloud Indian School on Pine Ridge Reservation.

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We met with Tamatane l’atala and discussed the most pressing needs of students at the Red Cloud School.

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Tamatane l’atala told us that Red Cloud Indian School is committed to teaching Lakota, both as a primary and as a secondary language to elementary and middle school students.

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By learning the Lakota language, Lakota children gain a tremendous sense of pride. We know that feeling good about oneself is the first building block needed for success.  We happily donated our NHD funds to the Lakota language program of Red Cloud Indian School.

Now we can study Lakota on their website Lakota Language Project as we prepare for our next visit to Pine Ridge!

Boxes of Blankets Delivered: to Syrian Refugees Residing in Jordan

When our friend Mark approached us with his latest endeavor; Collect One, we were delighted to participate. Mark had a simple idea, if each of his colleagues collected one item, but at least 50 boxes of that item, collectively we would be able to send an entire shipping container of needed items to a refugee camp in Jordan.

We decided to send blankets, as our books are mostly written in English.

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Our blankets are all handmade, and as we were heading to Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, TN, we decided to bring all our fabrics with us for a grand international adventure in blanket making.

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The kids at DI helped tremendously, and everywhere we went we gathered our friends and busily made blankets. Finally our quota was complete.

We were able to join the caravan of cars circling the block in Brooklyn as car after car unloaded their boxes.

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Our blankets joined hundreds of others. Mark’s trucks and container was overflowing. He called a friend and was able to immediately secure and fill an entire second container!

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We were invited to join the small group journeying to Jordan to directly distribute the various items, however we were unable to join.

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Mark brought back pictures, and stories, and a determination to do it all again!

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We are so grateful

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to be able to

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help in this small way

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and to know that our blankets

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are keeping children warm in Jordan!

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Favorite item internationally: the soccer ball!

5,000 School Books Reach Nigeria

By Sebastian 

This month, Wonderland BookSavers shipped 100 boxes of books, adding up to  5,000 total books, to Nigeria! This is our first shipment there, and we’re so excited to be able to make a contribution, thanks to our awesome liaison on the ground, Mark Grashow! The state of education in Nigeria is very dire, with more children out of school than anywhere else in the world; 40% of primary school-age kids do not ever attend school. Nigeria’s population growth over the last decade has made it even more difficult for the already struggling government to provide basic public services. This has especially impacted education, with about half of the current population under the age of 15. In many parts of Nigeria, there are simply not enough schools, and children often have to walk many miles to get there. Unfortunately, even where there are schools closer together, these schools frequently lack proper facilities such as a water-proof structure, toilets, books, basic school supplies and qualified teachers. Moreover, families often need children to go to work to help support their survival. In fact, perhaps one of the biggest factors is that families cannot afford to pay the required fees for uniforms and school books.

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Our hope is that we can provide some relief to schools and families by providing those needed books directly, so that the quality and possibility of education might be a little improved for some children. We are so grateful to try to do a little part to make sure that Nigerian children can get access to education which we so often take for granted!

IMG_2871Packed by The Wonderland BookSaver Team!

Handmade Books Arrive in Haitian Hands

We are so gratified to have received this letter and these wonderful photographs:

Dear John and Josh and Wonderland BookSavers,

The children of Fondation Jean Bellande Joseph in Cayes-Jacmel send heartfelt thanks for the beautiful books created by the students in John McMillan and Josh Cummings’ French classes from Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center in Chicago, and delivered to us by Allie through Wonderland BookSavers.

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The books were a stunning success!

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First, there were enough for everyone, which is a big issue in the distribution of gifts. Very few students have books of their very own outside required textbooks and access to our growing library.

 

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Our kids immediately grasped the hard work that went into the composition and illustration of the books, and the laminating insured their longevity – so necessary in Haiti.

 

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There was a book about a pig given to one of the girls who shared the same name and that provoked a torrent of giggles. (Her friends all that that was very appropriate.)

 

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Standing up to read your books was an important exercise in public speaking.

 

Our students, aged 3-19, are in primary and secondary schools in a semi-rural area outside Jacmel, on the South coast of Haiti. Their parents are subsistence farmers who live on about $1.25 per day. Most of their parents are illiterate and really struggle to keep their kids fed, clothed and in school. We provide scholarships, food and job training to 67 kids in this area who spend every Saturday with us. Many of the kids in the photographs are much older than they look because their growth was stunted by malnutrition in early childhood but they are thriving now with us!

 

You might be interested to know that the administrator of our program, who is a Haitian Education Department official, said that most Haitian children would not be able to produce books like this because they are not encouraged to do any kind of creative writing. They generally learn by rote and don’t have the resources or tradition of branching out into projects like this. We have challenged our kids to develop books of their own and I hope they’ll be inspired by your models.

 

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Please thank all the students whose talent and care brought such delight to our kids.

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Very best wishes to you all,

Susy Whitcomb

Haitian Education Initiatives

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Wonderland BookSavers, Inspiring with Literature

By Claire Langdon

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These are the Haitian children who will receive these beautiful books!

Recently, team Wonderland BookSavers has been pursuing a new facet of our outreach: not only are we continually dedicated to our original mission to spread our love of literature by salvaging books and donating them to children globally, but we are also striving to generate a multiplied impact by connecting a global community over service and literature.

Over the past four months, our team collaborated with Mr. John McMillan’s French students from Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center in Chicago to address a problem facing schools in Haiti. Many schools, teachers, and students lack the literary resources needed to encourage a literate, educated community. To continue our preexistent efforts to bring books to schools in Haiti, as well as to involve our friends with similar goals in Chicago, we developed a relationship in which these students compose children’s stories in French, and we act as the conduit through which they can be successfully and usefully donated. Our community partner Susy Whitcomb at Haitian Education Initiatives will personally deliver the books to Jacmel, Haiti in March.

Not only will the recipients benefit from the practice and variety afforded by these books, but they will be the beneficiaries of impressive authorship and meticulous illustrations. The time and creativity that have very evidently been applied to these books are manifestations of the genuine care and interest going into the project and towards the Haitian children. Included below are a few of these books!

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As a result of this effort, two geographically separate communities are being connected with literature as the liaison. Our team is excited to further our mission by continuing to create a network not only within our immediate community, but with others across the world. We hope that another collaborative opportunity to illustrate books, write letters, or otherwise expand our global, literature-inspired community arises soon! Just as team Wonderland BookSavers is “inspired by literature,” we hope to spark that same inspiration in others across the world.

South Africa: Weighing-In at 129 Boxes

We like to get most of our books boxed and on the road before the first snowfall, but somehow we missed that deadline this year, so we put on our warm coats and boots and headed for the garage…

These books are all heading for South Africa, which has fairly strict importation guidelines.  Every box must be accurately labeled and weighed.

This was an excellent job for our treasurer and stellar statistician, Reid.

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Treasurer in training!

IMG_0774.JPGMany pounds of books! I think we can count loading the truck as gym class today.

IMG_2272Claire is managing to box books, load the truck, and attend her OHS classes!

IMG_0771.JPGIMG_0781.JPGFinally our garage is (almost) empty, and it is (almost) Christmas.

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The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;  

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.                                    Merry Christmas to All, and to all, A Good Night!