Until last September, I always said, "I do NOT fly - ever!" I didn't even have a passport. But when Gary and Jeff asked us to go to Ethiopia with them, I timidly got on a plane and flew to Ethiopia. And my life will never be the same. Every minute of every day was filled with wonder. Life is so primitive in many places, but what I remember most are the smiles and the warmth of all the people we met.
And the children! Our welcome at the Zata School was amazing. Then we all gathered at the new well and the kids crowded around to watch as Gary worked the pump and cool, clean water flowed. I was overwhelmed by emotions - awe that my son had made the dream of clean water come true for these children and their families, and humble gratitude for being able to play a small part in this miracle.
When Gary asked me to be involved in Friends Helping Others, I said, "Absolutely! But my part will have to involve children." About 20 years ago I developed a program for elementary school children - the primary goals were to foster social justice, non-violence, cultural awareness and to enable the kids to develop personal codes of ethics and values. The program has been in eight inner-city schools in two school districts since 1989.
I begin every year by telling my kids, "It doesn't matter what street you live on, what school you go to or how much money your family has - each one of you has a gift, a talent, to share. As children, your task is to find your own unique talent, and we adults have the responsibility to help nurture and develop that gift and to provide opportunities for you to share it."
The Kids Can program was inspired by all the children I have loved and worked with over the past 20 years.