Sowing the seeds of solidarity

October 23, 2012
by 
Josianne Gauthier, Deputy Executive Director and Guy Des Aulniers, Program Officer for Emergency Relief

Apparently, it is never too early to teach the concept of solidarity, nor does it have to be difficult. When the Director of our 3-year-old boy’s daycare informed me that she intended to put together an awareness-building project on Africa for the 2-5 year-olds and that the exercise would culminate in a fundraising activity in support of our West Africa appeal, I was both moved and surprised.

From an early age, our boys have often had to explain that their father was away in Africa. Every time, they showed up with new and exotic names to pronounce: Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, and more recently, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The Director and her team of teachers decided it would be the perfect opportunity to have these curious little people discover the continent.

During the summer, while Development and Peace was running its emergency appeal for the food crisis in West Africa, the “Moi, toi et les nôtres” preschool/daycare in Montreal, was exploring Africa. The project involved some geography, the names of indigenous animals and plants, and arts and crafts activities, including jewelry-making, printed tee-shirts, a mural of an African village, enormous papier mâché sculptures of giraffes and the reproduction of a well. The project ended in an exhibit and fundraising art fair for the parents to visit and contribute to. The enthusiasm, the interest and the curiosity of the children was simply contagious. The pride felt by their parents quite naturally transferred into generosity. The daycare was able to make a donation of $1,126 to Development and Peace to support the drought recovery and food security projects in Niger, through water and land rehabilitation activities.

On Friday, October 12th, we went to thank the children and their teachers and to receive their cheque by showing them pictures of the drought and what their solidarity had meant to their friends in Niger. The genuine openness and good will we encountered in these little ones, guided and accompanied by the adults in their lives, reminds us all that solidarity is not complicated. It can be quite simple. It starts with the act of sharing.

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