January 27, 2009
A few days ago, I sent an email to Ron Adams, a dynamic teacher at the Broad Meadows Middle School in Quincy, MA. to learn whether the Good People Fund might be able to help the important work he does there. We described Ron’s work with the students at Broad Meadows in this diary on April 22, 2008. Quite simply, students at the school who wish to change the world in exciting and meaningful ways can join Ron’s after-school club which is dedicated to improving the lives of kids around the world. Former students began the group more than ten years ago when they were privileged to meet Iqbal Masih, a young boy from Pakistan who had been sold by his parents to a carpet maker and remained chained to a loom creating beautiful carpets for long hours each day. When Iqbal escaped and traveled to America to receive an award from Reebok for his efforts to end child slavery, he visited the Quincy school and enthralled the students with his moving story. After returning to Pakistan, Iqbal was gunned down and so began the Quincy students’ quest to end child slavery wherever it may be. Inspired by Iqbal, they formed the Kid’s Campaign and began to accomplish amazing things around the world. Though the original students have long since graduated and are now adults (and, no doubt, profoundly changed by their experience), many students from subsequent classes have joined the campaign and continue the good work.
Ron’s response to my question about how we could help:
I met with several of our newest student campaign leaders yesterday to show them the Wish List I emailed to you. They were stunned silent. They did not know that their kids’ campaign has a long distance angel providing their group with the tools of change. You should have seen their faces. Their facial expressions went from mouth open, heads back, to looking at each other confused, to heads slumping with smiles on each face. Then the questions came fast and furious. Who is this Naomi? Who are the Good People? It was the teachable moment, and I pulled out our photo archives to show the new leaders photos from past years including photos from the (Ziv Tzedakah Fund) New Jersey and Rhode Island Mitzvah Heroes Conferences. "What’s a Mitzvah?" asked one of the girls who has become a grade 6 leader named Amira, clothed in traditional Iraqi covering, a Muslim. After that teachable moment she said she has to meet Naomi to shake her hand and to show her the posters and poems she has made for the campaign using the tools sent last school year. She is young enough that stereotypes and prejudice have not yet been permanently formed. Her family moved to the U.S. to escape the sectarian violence in Baghdad three years ago. Amira is hoping to do some "mitzvahs" this year. Other grade 6 girls joined in: Renette, recently from Haiti and Biba from Morocco both promised to work with Amira. It was a moment of innocence and sweetness. Surrounding these girls were third, fourth and fifth generation Catholics, a Jewish boy, a Universalist eighth grader, a Buddhist and Baptist. Yet, united, everyone was looking at the photos and realizing on whose shoulders they were all standing. The connections to the people, who in the past worked to create a Kids’ Campaign for Iqbal Masih and children like Iqbal in any country, suddenly became visible and obvious. I jumped in. The lesson to be learned I told them was that there are teams of good people all over the world who quietly or loudly sacrifice and volunteer together to help make the world, anyone’s world, better. They are just like us, all races, all religions. They do it, I said, not because it gets you fame or free supplies, you volunteer together because it is the right thing to do. I congratulated the new leaders for joining for the right reason, and I hoped they would now understand that grade 6, 7 and 8 students can change the world a little, but only if we build bridges to other people. Those people might be the same age or old, the same religion or race or not. And finally, good people find each other, team and dream together about changing the world a little, then, remarkably they TAKE ACTION to turn those dreams into realities. That’s how people, any person really, can better the world. I told them that we are blessed in our Kids’ Campaign because good people found us! Imagine where we would be without their friendship and encouragement and support.
Gosh, I love working with this age group. They are still open minded and pure. I truly hope and wish and pray that they will (in these formative years) discover the good people are all from the same race…the human race.
Reading a note like this cannot help but make us want to do whatever we can to ensure that these young idealistic kids succeed. The list that Ron sent us included several items which we hope to provide for them, but the one thing that is always the most fun to do is to go online with the long shopping list for Staples and click away! In thirty minutes I had filled my "virtual" basket with markers, pens, poster board, ink cartridges, glue sticks…and, perhaps, most important of all, some Twizzlers and some pretzels for sustenance while they work long hours after school to change the world.
If you want to learn more about the "Quincy kids" and their work, we suggest you follow this link which will take you to information about a newly released DVD which features their story (as well as nine other stories about truly good people) https://www.goodpeoplefund.org/Mitzvah_Movies