As the 12th child in a family of 13, I value the small things in life – a great book to read, a good cup of coffee, or a friendly smile. My father was a single parent, who worked very hard to give us a full childhood and taught us the value of education early on.
He was a farmer and a leader in our local community. He gave of his time, talents and money to help others in need. I am very grateful to him and all I learned about giving back, education and valuing the seemingly “small” things in life.
As a university professor, I see firsthand the enthusiasm in students looking towards a brighter further. Nowhere more have I seen this then this past February when I travelled to Ghana as part of CODE’s Seeing is Believing tour.
I was unprepared for how much this would change the way I see the world. What I saw was truly inspiring. It was also heartwarming and overwhelming.
Imagine this – entering a classroom of 51 students all lined two to three per desk, eagerly waiting for visitors so that they could share all that they have been learning throughout the year. Their enthusiasm and love of learning were awe-inspiring and contagious.
Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in our hearts.” – Winnie the Pooh
As we arrived at each school, we were given wonderful little booklets, which were made with the help of donors in Canada. In advance of our tour, CODE had asked donors to write stories about why reading was important to them. Most importantly, they shared a message of encouragement for the students of Ghana.
It was now the students’ turn to share their world with donors in Canada. As the students worked on their own stories, something magical happened.
As I circulated through a Primary 4 class, students engrossed with their stories and drawings, I noticed a young boy who was sitting still. He was not writing his story or drawing his picture. I asked, “Is there something wrong; can you not think of something to write about?”
He said in a shy, quiet voice, “I don’t have a pencil.”
I reached into my pocket and pulled out a CODE pencil. I sharpened it and handed it to him. His face beamed and he excitedly got to work. A small thing – with so much meaning.
As I stood up, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the other students quietly hiding their own pencils in their desks, under their seats or in their small schoolbags. Their hands then quickly shot into the air as they, too, wanted a new pencil of their own.
It was then that I really appreciated how something as simple as a pencil has the power to change a child’s day, and ultimately their future.