16 February 2011

How a #2 pencil (or an orange) can change a life!

War on Terror News has a story up on how a simple thing such as a #2 pencil can change the life of an Afghan child. More on the orange in a minute, but first, the #2 pencil:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How Your #2 Pencil Can Save Afghanistan!


If you could do something to help an Afghan girl learn to read, would you? If you understood that Afghan literacy is a key to long term peace and prosperity, would that make a difference in whether you gave a little girl a pencil? While American children want the latest X-Box or the games that go with it, in many parts of the world, children are ecstatic to get a common #2 lead pencil. They're happy with a piece of hard candy, but as convoys pass or Troops approach, one of the most common signs is an index finger to the palm of the hand, asking for a pencil.

This was the matter of discussion between myself and a teammate more than once. As the least educated on the team, I was interested on teammates thoughts on the rocks (one guy was a specialist in the things and he hated when I called crushed stone, "gravel," so I did it often), or in this case a PhD candidate's observations on Afghan kids' desire for self-expression.

He noted that kids everywhere just want to be able to express themselves. It was certainly better than my niece's use of the walls of the house as her personal canvas to her permanent markers at a young age. I had a ready source for pencils and would get 500 pack boxes of the prize of Afghan kids, every few mail runs. The phenomenon is discussed in a "Time Machine" article from 2009.

The fact is that something as simple as school supplies can change the future of Afghanistan, as well as improve relations between Afghans and American Troops. Those old unused school supplies you have, the old backpacks in your closets, can make a positive difference in the lives of kids that have toys no more expensive than the rocks they find in the desert. And a Senior Master Sergeant in the Air Force teamed up with his Professor wife to start not just a program to help you help Afghan kids, but got Florida College Kids involved in the effort. I can't even imagine a downside to this program...

For those who want a simple way to 'support the troops' and make a world of difference (truly,) I urge you to go read the rest of WOTN's column about this important program, that really does change lives in Afghanistan - one child at a time. Go HERE, and see what you can do.

As for the orange in the header? Many years ago, in a land far, far away, this writer attended a Christmas party that was hosted by US soldiers for local kids. Whilst I do not remember any specific soldier, and I am SURE that none of those American soldiers remember me, I can tell you that the impact of that one orange (and the memory of that salted popcorn - still not an acquired taste...) still resonates with me today. That one orange, given to a child in a friendly country, is part of the reason I do what I do to support our American troops. Imagine the impact of one #2 pencil on an Afghan (or Iraqi child, or any child in a hostile land.)

Go read WOTN's column, and learn of a great program that supports our troops in their mission in Afghanistan. One pencil, one child at a time.

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