Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Justice Projects

"A voice is a gift.  It should be cherished and used." ~ Margaret Atwood

Here's the list of projects that the students came up with and began working on this past week:
  • Falling Whistles (video): raising awareness about "Falling Whistles | A Campaign for Peace in the Congo"
  • Enviro-Mend (video): advocating for stopping environmental destruction and starting environmental reconstruction
  • Empty Plate (video): raising awareness of hunger in the U.S., especially for children and the Hunger Action Center
  • Chickens for Change (school-wide fund-raiser) : raising awareness about Heifer International and what it does to help the world
  • Recycle4Kidz (school-wide recycling program): raising awareness about recycling technology while earning points with Digital Wish toward new equipment for Computers4Kids
  • Invisible Children (big art to hang in school gallery): raising awareness about "Invisible Children" and the conflict in Uganda
  • Compassion for Creatures (VoiceThread story): advocating for stopping animal abuse
  • A Story of Homelessness (children's picture book): raising awareness of homelessness and how a place like the Haven can help

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What would you do without a computer?

"Computers are a daily occurrence for us, and we have started to take them for granted.  We use them to research information, write reports, and even make entire presentations.  But did you know that even though many people own computers, in some schools, 50% of the students still don’t have access to computers to help them with their homework, as well as preparing them for their future jobs."

"Computers4Kids (C4K) is an organization that works with kids in Charlottesville. They provide kids in the area with computers and a place to work on their school work."

"The program started when a radio station sparked the conversation because so many computer users have thrown perfectly good computers in the trash."

"At first when I thought about C4K I did not think that it would look so nice and there would be so many computers."

"When we got there I was totally amazed to find that there was so many computers!"

"They have 3 computer labs: one with all Dell desktops, one with older iMacs and one with brand new iMacs."

"The kids ages go from 11 to 17 and after high school graduation, they encourage you to aim for being a mentor."

"The students go through 3 days of training classes and then are paired with a mentor with whom they will spend the next 9 months working with."

"During the 9 month program kids work with a mentor on different programs that interest them. Some of the programs that they worked on were Google Sketch and Alice."

"Kids come in once a week for one hour to work with their mentor.  A kid must finish two projects in order to graduate from C4K."

"C4K has been running for ten years and has future dreams to help older kids in need."

"This program is completely made from volunteers, donations and grants."

"I think it  is amazing how the youth and their mentor connect."

"I thought it was really cool how C4K gives kids a chance to work with and earn a computer who otherwise would never be able to."

"I think C4K is a great organization!  If I was in the position of somebody who needed tech help and a computer, I would be very thankful."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Escape & Rescue

"The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a non-profit organization that helps displaced people from different countries."

"We were privileged to receive a presentation from Mirna Dickey, a family support coordinator. She told us about what the organization does, it resettles refugee from different countries into the US and has offices in refugee camp in 42 different countries."

"A refugee is person who has to flee from their home countries. They are people fleeing from war, not natural disaster."

"A refugee, when they have to flee has a confusing and scared time.  It's like leaving everything you know and are used to, for something new and different.  If I was in that position I don't know what I would do or how I would feel.  Some people who have families get separated and that would be hard for anybody."

"There are 16 million refugees in the world in 2010."

"Many refugees have to stay in camps for many years waiting for their chance to leave the camp."

"There are 3 solutions for a normal life for a refugee. 1: Voluntary return to country of origin. That is when the refugees returns to his/her country when the conflict is over. 2: Host country integration, which is when they gain citizenship in the country they fled to. 3: Resettlement in 3rd country."

"I thought is was interesting that the US accepts half of the 1% that are chosen for resettlement, which is around 80,000 per year."

"They (IRC) help you with English, basic skills like money counting and check writing, and help with finding a job.  They also pay for an apartment for you for up to six months."

"One thing that struck me was the lengths they (IRC) go to to get a refugee a job."

"What they’re doing is great, and they really have made a difference."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Opening Our Eyes to Homelessness

We learned a lot on our first day of Project Justice and as you'll see we had a surprise encounter as well!   At the end of the day, the students were asked to write down their thoughts about the day's experiences and now I'm looking at over 20 pages of their documentation.  Following are excerpts from their writing that summarizes our visit to The Haven at First and Market.  First, I want to thank Kaki Dimock, Executive Director, for taking time to really engage these children in thoughtful consideration of homeless issues and for our surprise guest for taking his time to meet and talk to the class.

"Today we went to the Haven… a place where the homeless can eat breakfast, find jobs on the internet, garden, learn art and culinary skills, do their laundry and sleep if you need to."

"Getting out of the bus we ran into Tom Shadyac, the famous producer / writer / director of Evan Almighty, and many more."

"After he finished his film, Tom noticed all of the homeless people around, and so he bought the church and donated it to the community.  This was how the Haven came to be."

"Before today, I had no idea how many homeless people there were out there.  It was startling and sad."

"I was sort of freaked out before we went to the Haven.  I thought there were going to be lots of drunk people. All the people at the Haven looked very nice and friendly."

"When I first heard we were going to a homeless shelter, I was a bit nervous of what it was going to feel like to interact with the people."

"We talked about when we hear the word homeless and what came to our minds.  Some of the things were fire, the railroads, people we know, and people we see often or repeatedly."

"We thought maybe they became homeless because they have mental or addiction problems."

"A lot of our stereotypes are wrong.  One example is that when we think of being homeless, we picture it a long maybe even lifelong experience, but 80% of homeless people get a home in under 2 years."

"I was shocked to hear the the largest-growing sub-group of people in the group of homeless people were homeless families and homeless kids."

"Taking the steps, we came to this place that looked kind of like when you check your bags/coats at a museum.  Turning to the left there was a cafeteria with a few round tables.  Walking farther in we noticed to doors leading into the kitchen, some of the people out mingling were very nice.  The kitchen was big and very clean."

"We saw lots of people and we got to see what many of the homeless did.  There were a couple on computers and some doing laundry. "

Touring the Haven "changed the way I saw the homeless".

"Learning about homeless people changes my perspective on how different our lives can be from theirs."

"Before I went to the Haven, I thought that it would be sad and depressing, but over all it was a happy place."

"The Haven is doing a lot of work to help homeless people become not homeless. I really learned a lot about the homeless and that we shouldn't take things for granted."

"We saw these paintings done of 'home' by homeless people in art program, and it was really touching to see this one house with an oak tree and a pond and a grassy yard. It really was special to me because that person who drew it had probably never lived in a house like that and it was probably their dream house, and I did live in a house like that. It kind of made me feel sad that that person had had their dream home be like that and I lived in a place like that."

"If your life takes a tragic dip, one of the greatest place to be is the Haven.  The doors open at 7:00am and close at 5:00pm.  They have everything from experts to help you get your resume into place to yoga classes."

"Amazing enough the Haven is not a government sponsored place. They work through donations only."

"Although it doesn't cover all of the problems of homelessness, it is still a great start, and also the Haven in and of itself is very friendly and provides many of the necessary services to those in need."

"Being homeless is a big problem, but there is lots of hope.  There are a lot of things even you can do to help.  By donating food, appliances, money, supplies, your time, or even educate others about the topics.  And you never know, in the future it may cease to be a problem!"

Check back soon for the students' thoughts on their visit from the International Rescue Committee.