If You Give a Child a Pencil . . .

02/28/14

Two years ago, I stepped into my dream job as a staff writer for Children of the Nations (COTN). In this job, I see the naked reality of the brokenness that was, and the unaccountable, transformative power of the Great Love who is doing a great work in the lives of so many.

 
Most of the time I write accounts of these miracle stories from my home office. It’s clean, quiet, soft white and driftwood brown, one window facing to the sky. Here I let my mind take me to the countries where our children live: Uganda, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Dominican Republic, Haiti. 
 
But each year, for a week or two, I don’t have to imagine these places. I get to go. Last year, I went to the Dominican Republic.
 
Heather at work in the DR
       I love visiting COTN's ministry sites and telling the stories of how the children's lives are being transformed.
 
We work with the outcasts there—migrant Haitian worker families who crossed the border years ago to harvest sugarcane. Now, generations later, they aren’t needed in the fields so much. Work is very hard to find. They have no rights as citizens. No access to public education or health care. They live in shantytowns. The poverty is raw-boned. But it’s better than where they came from, in Haiti. And it’s home now, sort of, so they stay.
 
Here—where children hopped and skipped alongside me, pushing and shoving to grab even just one of my fingers—I see a beautiful future embedded in the dirt roads.
 
The beauty is only possible because I have seen what COTN and its partners are doing here, loving and caring for so many children. Otherwise, without this hope, the little fingers grabbing for my attention would break me. 
 
Your care is giving children opportunities for success in school and other aspec
                     Your care is giving children opportunities for success in school and every other aspect of life.
 
But here, one child at a time, hearts, minds, bodies, futures, families are being made whole again—the way God always wanted it to be. This is only possible because thousands of hands and hearts have come together to lift these kids up.
 
At our Florida COTN office, we’re asking for 800 more helping hands. We recognize that education is a key to breaking the cycle of poverty. And school supplies are a critical, basic necessity. COTN meets this need by providing SmilePacks—individualized packages of school supplies.
 
At school in the Dominican Republic
     It's amazing the effect something as simple as a pencil and other school supplies can have on children in poverty.
 
We’ve called our campaign “If You Give a Child a Pencil.” There’s a simple yet profound progression from a pencil to a good education to a job to a child—now grown—able to provide for their family. And that’s what real hope and transformation look like.
 
 
Three ways you can get involved:
2. Start your own campaign for school supplies on Indiegogo! 
3. Provide even more school supplies for children through COTN’s Resource Program.
 
An earlier version of this story appeared on Heather's blog.