Claire Wall, a nine-year-old Waldorf student, recently read a children’s version of the famous Three Cups of Tea, by David Relin and Greg Mortenson. The book describes Mort-enson’s mountaineering experience in Pakistan where he became lost as he descended from a climb. Weak and exhausted, he came upon the small village of Korphe.
Claire’s mother, Alia Wall explains her family finds it inspiring, as Mortenson did, that the children encountered there wanted to learn so badly they made do without the basics of education. “They were on the ground in the snow, drawing with sticks. There was no teacher. They were trying to do this on their own,” says Alia. Impressed by the experience and to repay the people of Korphe for their hospitality, Mortenson built them a school.
Since then, the co-founder of the Central Asia Institute has helped build over 171 schools, improving access to education for children, especially girls, in Pakistan and Afghanistan through the Pennies for Peace campaign. “We decided to do Pennies for Peace because that’s what he did in the book,” says Claire. “It’s fun and it will help children get an education.”
A penny may not buy much in Nelson, says Alia. But in the villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan, it can buy a pencil. Here that same pencil is 10 cents. This pencil starts an education and transforms a life. In a region where terrorist organizations recruit the uneducated, a child empowered by reading, writing and learning has a better chance. A teacher is also available for $1 per day, she says.
The Pennies for Peace program encourages children to learn about philanthropy though collecting pennies for a cause. Claire sees her drive being supported at school, says Alia, “The most contributions have come from her classmates,” she says. “They just keep brining in baggies of pennies.”
Claire started Pennies for Peace at the beginning of February and has her jars in local stores including Fairies Pajamas, Gaia Rising, Snowpack and Jilly bo Billy. The Kootenay Bakery also donated their penny collection. “It’s fun to have penny jars everywhere and wonder how much people will give,” says Claire. “It’s interesting that we’re doing this now because they’re stopping with the penny. It’s a good time.”
Pennies for Peace aims to empower communities through education in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.
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