Imagine it is the first day of school and you are opening up your new school supplies to check that you have all that you need. You have new pens, pencils, highlighters, college ruled and wide ruled notebooks, binders, and last but not least, a scorpion. Wait?! What?! A scorpion!!!
Okay, so this may not be a realistic thing that would happen in the United States, but, unfortunately, it could be reality for children in countries less privileged. At the beginning of this week, as a part of one of my new classes this semester at University of South Florida, I was asked to get involved in packing school supplies for children in Afghanistan. As part of the learning process, my professor posed to the class an interesting question: why would taping over the cracks in a mailing box be really important? While an obvious answer of, “Oh, so pencils don’t fall out,” popped into my head, the class discussion continued with an explanation of how sand, dust, and even scorpions can get in these boxes before they are delivered to children in Afghanistan. That’s when a thought hit me; this is just another reminder of how privileged I am.
I can go online or to a store and find at least 7 different archetypes of pens (http://www.bicworld.com/en/products/categories/10/writing ). Also, I can buy these pens in varying colors or one that is contoured to my individual needs. Yet, simultaneously there are people living on this planet who can’t even get access to one pen. Furthermore, when I think of all these choices in pens, I have to remind myself what the purpose of pen actually is: to write. In the case of both American and Afghanistan students: to write notes, draw graphs, and take tests (i.e., to support education).
Did you know that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 49 million students started school in the fall in America and an estimated $525 billion was spent in relation to their education (http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/ )? In my opinion, this is a wonderful statistic. However, I can’t help but to wonder how much money is spent in relation to the educational needs of other countries, particularly underprivileged ones. In Afghanistan, the support for education is increasing (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5380.htm), but there is plenty of room to grow.
So, if you are reading this and would like to help by donating school supplies, you can follow this link that will explain what my class is collecting (Items we collect:). If you are a personal friend (or coworker) and would like to donate just contact me. I’d be more than happy to set up a drop off meeting. If you are not interested in donating right this second, you could always click on our class Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Afghanistan-My-Last-Tour/195225755292 (you might as well if you have been reading this far…), like us, and stay in touch! Finally, if you have innovative or creative ideas on how we can get supplies in these boxes for these underprivileged children, please let me know! We have to think outside the box to get things inside the box!