More than 50 of CODE’s most loyal supporters braved the humidity last week to attend CODE’s annual donor reception - held this year at the beautifully renovated allsaints community space in Sandy Hill. The reception date, Thursday September 8th, was very à propos as it marked the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s International Literacy Day and the launch of the new Global Education Monitoring Report.
Scott Walter, CODE’s Executive Director, hosted the evening and paid special tribute to one of CODE’s most generous donors, William “Bill” Burt. Mr. Burt became involved with CODE in 2007 after taking part in its 2007 Seeing is Believing Tour to Ethiopia. Upon his return from that trip, Bill became a devoted and exceptionally generous CODE supporter. His first order of business? To help CODE get engaging books into the hands of young adults. In 2008, The Burt Award for African Literature was launched in Tanzania to recognise excellent, engaging and culturally relevant books. Burt Award programs for three more African countries soon followed. There are now Burt Award programs for Caribbean Literature and, most recently, First Nations, Inuit and Métis Literature.
Poor health prevented Mr. Burt from receiving the CODE Director’s Award but accepting it on his behalf were dignitaries from three countries in which the Burt Award program has made a tremendous impact -- namely Ms. Ukubi Hanfere Mohammed, First Secretary, public diplomacy of the Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Mr. Paul James Makelele from the Tanzanian High Commission, and Dr. Sulley Gariba –High Commissioner to Ghana.
Other attendees included CODE board member Rosamaria Durand, long-time CODE member and donor, Gwynneth Evans, and Afreenish Yusirah –CODE’s new CODE on Campus representative from Carleton University.
The event was also an opportunity for CODE to acknowledge 25 years of partnership with its UNESCO award-winning partners the Children’s Book Project of Tanzania and Associação Progresso of Mozambique.
The event concluded with the exciting announcement of CODE’s 2017 Seeing is Believing –Ghana tour. His Excellency, Dr. Sulley Gariba, High Commissioner to Ghana, personally extended an invitation to the audience promising participants a very warm welcome to his country. The tour, set to begin on February 15th 2017, will provide participants with the opportunity to visit children and teachers engaged in CODE’s programming in schools in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
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.
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.
When you support CODE, you help make all of this happen. Please help rewrite the story for global literacy, one pencil, one book, one teacher and one student at a time.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”
- A. A. Milne
As a young child, my heart was drawn to the spark of curiosity and wonder that stories have to offer. I read everything I could get my little hands on – Anne of Green Gables, The Chronicles of Narnia, Nancy Drew, and others. But my favourite was always Winnie the Pooh.
I could not have imagined a childhood without the gift of reading. And because of this gift, I have always been an avid reader, and I am a devoted life-long learner.
This is why I believe in CODE – because I believe in the life-changing power of reading and education.
Reading is not just an escape to a fantastic realm of magic. It shows us a reflection of our world and of ourselves. It unlocks the potential in every child and empowers them to lift themselves into a brighter future.
As a CODE donor, I have had the opportunity to visit the schools that my gifts help sustain. I have seen the enthusiasm and excitement of the children as they are inspired by their teachers and schoolwork. And I recognize that same spark of curiosity in their eyes that I had as a child – reading is truly magical and the adventure that is education.
Adele Imrie with students outside a Maasai village school in northern Tanzania.
I believe each of those children I met will go on to make a difference, and be a positive force in their communities, families, and for themselves.
That gives me incredible hope. And it also makes me grateful – not only for every opportunity I had as a child but for this opportunity I have now to offer the same kind of experience to children everywhere.
I have seen and felt the difference my gifts to CODE have made. It’s why I keep giving – because I know every dollar I give is doing the good work that I deeply believe in.
And I know that together, we can continue to open minds and spark a love of reading – and lifelong learning – in children all over the world.
For the love of reading,
CODE Foundation Board Chair
Long-time Donor & Forever Friend of CODE