GLOBAL AWARENESS BEGINS:
Imagine Kids for Kids was organized to create opportunities for children in our schools to develop cross cultural, interactive friendships with children in other parts of the United States or the world. The idea was formed after Holly Saltzman, the founder, traveled to Kenya in 2006. She spent time in the Kibera Slum in Nairobi and visited several preschools. She was deeply impressed with the devotion, intelligence and tenacity of the people she met. Kibera is said to be one of the largest slums in Africa. It is roughly a mile square with a population of more than 1,000,000 people. There is limited electricity and no sewer system. The majority of the children cannot depend on eating three meals a day. A few fortunate teachers earn between $100.00 and $150.00 a month. Some of the conditions at the schools that Holly visited would be unimaginable to us. The children in Kibera feel privileged to attend them.
Kids for Kids grew out of a relationship Holly made on her first trip to Kenya. She has been back many times and continues the relationships now. Imagine has sponsored teachers and directors to make the trip as well. Everyone came back from the trips eager to maintain contacts and share the experience with the Imagine community. There was an interest in developing a program where children with varying cultures and life experiences could "meet".
The initial PPP started with the school, Drug Fighters and Counseling for the Young Generation (DFC), a self help, non profit organization in Kibera, Kenya. The Imagine and DFC children were exchanging drawings and pictures through the mail when it was learned that the the DFC kids could not hang up the pictures because their school had no walls. There had been a fire and the school was being held in a temporary open air space. They could not afford to move. We decided to help. The children and teachers sponsored a "Build-a-thon" at all Imagine centers. All the classrooms were busy building in the block areas, with arts and crafts materials, and outside. The parents and community sponsored our burgeoning architects, contractors and construction workers and the necessary money was raised to purchase land for a new school for DFC.
Also in 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, Kids for Kids raised fund for Yashica Jordan of New Orleans, Louisiana, for a new fire system for her school, Jordan's Learning Academy. There are countless ways to help others and we feel lucky to be involved. We are teaching the children the beauty of lending a helping hand, even a small one. The relationships built have been beneficial for everyone involved.
Over the years the children and teachers at Imagine have held "fun-raisers" OR collected items for:
- Mother's Touch, Englewood, Chicago
- UNICEF, Tsunami support
- New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina
- Partners in Health, Haitian earthquake support
- North Shore Animal League, Port Washington, New York
- DFC and FAFU, Kibera Slum, Nairobi Kenya
- Backpacks for Kids, Brooklyn, New York
- Port Washington Food Pantry
- St Francis Hospital, Long Island, New York
- Our Lady of Fatima Church, Port Washington, New York
- Ronald McDonald House
- Port Washington Police
- Long Island Pajama Program
- St Annes' Church, Newark, New Jersey
- Carving for the Cure, Islip, New York
- Covenant House
- St Jude's Hospital
- Island Park Union Free School District, Hurricane Sandy relief
- as well an many, many other programs!!
Martha of DFC wrote:
"You can not believe how all this has changed the children, especially their self-worth and value, when they are drawing the pictures they always feel that someone somewhere cares about what they are doing. Someone values them, one of the things these children have been subjected to is a lot of rejection, fear and physical torture and if someone shows them love they feel so good."
One of Imagine's parents wrote:
"We understand that feeling of lack and suffering and yet it is nothing compared to "our friends in Africa" as my daughter would say. In these times of bigger is better and I want, thank you for teaching our children the art of empathy."
In 2007 Kids for Kids raised over $6000 for DFC with a Read-a-thon. All Imagine centers have supported St Jude's Research Hospital in Memphis Tennessee by having Trike-a-thons each year. Combined, Imagine centers have raised between $5000 and $8000 each year for St Jude's.
In 2008 the children and teachers at Imagine's had a HeART-a-thon and again made a donation to DFC. The schools focused on free form art works that were auctioned off to Imagine supporters. With the funds raised we had shoes made in Nairobi for each of the 180 children at the DFC school. Teachers' salaries were supported and Kids for Kids contributed to the feeding program at DFC.
We also bought DFC an oil press through Kickstart. The hope was that the oil press will be used to set up a business producing cooking oil. If successful the project will support 3 salaries and 3 additional new salaries for teachers at DFC.
Imagine Kids for Kids continues to expand and improve the PPP to include programs in Tanzania and most recently Guatemala. When available the children and teachers use the Internet to Skype. We have been most successful collaborating online with FAFU (Facing the Future) school, also in the Kibera slum in Nairobi. The children Skype, exchanging questions, learning songs, sharing tours of their centers and enjoying book groups. The teachers work together developing an appropriate curriculum for both groups.