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LizF, AndrewDavid, pat_woolford, margo_oz, Mucky, Daneille, alice13, Melodie, Neil_oz, johnj_au, 646wyck, LoveItaly, hobbes, Judy_in_Calgary, SusanInToronto, preenyc, tropo, LN, crazymina, Lyndie, Peteralan, gk11b! Help, please!

LizF, AndrewDavid, pat_woolford, margo_oz, Mucky, Daneille, alice13, Melodie, Neil_oz, johnj_au, 646wyck, LoveItaly, hobbes, Judy_in_Calgary, SusanInToronto, preenyc, tropo, LN, crazymina, Lyndie, Peteralan, gk11b! Help, please!

Dec 8th, 2004, 04:35 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Hi love Italy - I did send some pencil sharpeners in my package but I bet they could do with some more.
pat_woolford is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 05:33 PM
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LoveItaly, you are WAY ahead of me!

Anybody got any nice posters of their home country to put on the walls?
Alan is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 05:39 PM
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Hi Alan

You missed me, the creator of the question that brought 136 posts that provided so many of us with not only information but humour, history, politics, local lore and of course, places off-the beaten track to visit in and around Sydney.

I hope this post will outdistance that one by many more. I will sit back and see what I can think of that would be practical and interesting. What are the ages?

Happy Holidays everyone.

michi is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 07:25 PM
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Hi, michi! Yes, I did miss you -- how could that have happened? I am truly very sorry -- who could ever forget that mammoth thread which you started some months ago?

The children's ages are spread right through from about five years to fifteen years. The next school "up" for seniors is in Jaisalmer, but, as that's sixty kilometres away, across the rocks and sand of the desert, transport is not feasible, so most of the village children just know this one school. They have only had this building for a couple of years -- there's a recent government initiative to provide schooling for all children (even though, of course, there are still many hundreds of thousands of children in India who never attend school, and, indeed, the government is probably relieved that this is so, because there simply aren't the facilites to house all of them!), and, I hear, one of the incentives for parents who would normally send their children out to work from age 5 or 6 to instead send them to school is the promise of a meal every day for every school child. In a country where so many children go hungry, that, I would imagine, is a strong incentive indeed.

In the case of the Barna children, I would imagine that the work they have to do as members of a desert family can be done before and after school, so these kids probably have it both ways -- they work AND get a smattering of an education.

I think, however, that, thanks to the generosity of the people on this forum, the definition of "smattering" is in the process of going up a notch or two. The great thing all children have going for them is curiosity -- all you have to do to motivate them is to say to them, "I know something that you don't know, and I am going to share this knowledge with you". From that minute on they are yours -- works every time! Just imagine how their curiosity is about to be piqued by all the information coming at them from our Fodotites! Is it too extravagant a statement to say that we are changing these children's lives in a small but significant way?
Alan is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 09:46 PM
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Pat_Wooflord and also Alan, thanks for your response. I started thinking about a school that had nothing. My mind started thinking and thus got to the pencil sharpeners. So will send some too. Thanks for your answers.
Best wishes to everyone and take good care.
LoveItaly is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 10:24 PM
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Here I am - late as usual!
Count me in!

Merry Christmas, all!
margo_oz is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 04:01 AM
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You are forgiven, however, I miss seeing my name up there in lights with all those stars.

The ages are a help even though the older children may not function in school at the same ages as ours, it gives some food for thought about what we might send.

I am thinking of some hard wearing jigsaw puzzles for varying ages packed in ziplocks + the flattened box + some Scotch Tape. Also have some of those Ravenburger(?) heavy duty ones. What do you think?

michi is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 04:08 AM
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The jigsaw puzzles are a brilliant idea. If you plan to buy them then ones with animals or world maps or the alphabet or numbers will probably be dual purpose for the teachers. Any arts and crafts type supply will go down well. And let me just second what Alan has said - every drop in the ocean truly does make a difference...
hobbes is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 07:08 AM
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Alan, Just have to share my "good day" surprise this morning. After reading your email, I passed it along to everyone on my mailing list. When I phoned my sister this morning to talk about Christmas with the family, she informed me that she couldn't talk just now as she was readying a package for the "kids in India". She and the girls in her office are sending a 100+ packages of crayons and coloring books. Imagine my surprise and delight. She is inspiring everyone she knows to join in the holiday spirit. Your "crazy idea" is spreading! Good job, my friend.
TC is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 10:48 AM
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Just went onto the website by chance, we were in oz this year(from uk) and had some great advice from here. Would love to send something to the school and will forward to a few friends.
juliewood57 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 02:11 PM
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This thread is taking on a life of its own!! Fantastic. I wish someone could be there to take photos when these dear children start receiving their packages. Can you imagine?

Oh, maybe that is a thought? A few disposable cameras? Alan is there somewhere where the film could be developed? Or would the cost be prohibitive. I know you said not to send money understandably. And suppose of course there is no computer so posting photos would not be possible. Just a stupid idea I guess.

Or would it be possible for the teacher to get the photos developed and mail them to you and you could put them on your computer? Again, just an idea but probably not a sensible one.

Peace and love to all of you. Take care.
LoveItaly is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 02:56 PM
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LoveItaly, I have learned, in the last thirty-six hours, that there is no such thing as a "stupid idea".... merely inspired ones and uninspired ones. Yours, I think, would be assessed by all fifty-one people on this thread as "inspired".

Certainly, the town of Jaisalmer, sixty kilometres away from the village, has cameras and film and places to develop these.... in fact, it's fast becoming a bit of a tourist mecca. So, I don't know why the Shahi Palace people, who live off the tourist trade, couldn't come good with a few rolls of camera film and the cost of developing. I will certainly follow this through with them! Thanks for an inspired suggestion! As for posting photos on the net.... well, I have problems just opening a Word document, so you are talking another language when you're talking about photos on a computer! However, I have a son who 'knows high-tech', so I will get some advice from him.

Well, we passed the fifty mark. Michi, watch out.... your Fodors record may yet be in peril!

Alan is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 04:04 PM
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In the interest of getting those numbers up, we are just on the way to the shipping place to send off mathematics flash cards and an erasable white board with various color markers we picked up today. Various pencil packs, notebooks, a few things like that.

Clifton is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 05:15 PM
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Hi everyone, I just stopped by the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce and they gave me about 50 postcards regarding Vacaville and about 30 pins shaped like hearts with Vacaville on them. They told me to go to the City offices also as they have lots of things. So just wanted to pass this along in case anyone wanted to stop by the Chamber of Commerce or city offices.

Did not shop yesterday as the storm here was tremendous. Now it is passed so tomorrow is "shopping and mailing the packages day".

A wonderful fun project for sure. And Alan, noone feels more dense about computers than I do. Thank goodness for the younger generations. My son-in-law is a wizard about computers. Do not know what I would do without him.

Best wishes to all.
LoveItaly is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 05:17 PM
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Alan, are you getting the feeling that you've unleashed something uncontrollable? Maybe you'll have to start diverting supplies to another school before long!
Neil_Oz is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 06:41 PM
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I think you've hit on it - if this grows and grows perhaps Alan can suggest another school or adding to the school's coffers more frequently during the year.

It's great that this thread is growing as it is. But Alan, as well as all of you great Aussie helpers, has always been so quick to assist any of us travelling to your great country.

Let's see where this will go - any suggestions??
LN is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 08:45 PM
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This whole idea of Alan's reminds me of the movie, and the idea of "pay it forward"....someone does something nice for you, and you "pay it forward" to the next person, and so on and so on.

It also reminds me of Oprah's special last year where she "brought Christmas" to Africa. That was truly amazing and inspiring. Dolls and books and backpacks for kids who had nothing and were just overwhelmed.....we all can't be Oprah but I think we're making a big difference!


wlzmatilida is offline  
Dec 10th, 2004, 04:20 AM
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I think that the last few posts have come up with a very legitimate point; to avoid overkill, perhaps it is, indeed, time that we turned our collective goodwill towards another needy target... from the sound of things, we have already ensured that the children of Barna will not be in need of the "essentials" for many months, and, in some cases, years.

In our five weeks in India, I passed dozens of small village schools which were, if not as poor as Barna, certainly not flush for funds by the standards in all of your countries and mine. It would, I think, be reasonable to suggest that we could withdraw from Barna now that they are (probably)the best-equipped school in the Indian subcontinent and look at something else; unfortunately, I never got around to establishing a working relationship with any of these other schools, so I am not the one to suggest a specific follow-up. The one other school I did get to "know" (because the students, returning from an excursion, found themselves stranded for a couple of hours on a railway station waiting for a 2-hour-late train, and, in typical open, friendly fashion, the kids were all over us like a rash within five minutes) was a posh private school whose pupils were outfitted more expensively than my own kids will ever be -- NOT, therefore, the most suitable substitute for the school we've all been contributing to!

It might be best, therefore, to let someone else come up with a suggestion. It would, I think, be a shame to let this tidal wave of goodwill go to waste before it gradually peters out of its own accord (as, alas, it surely must), but Barna, surely, now has its due share -- and thanks to the teacher (many posts above) who is writing to the teachers there to establish a long-term "mutual adoption" between her students and the Barna kids, we can be confident that our efforts will go on and on doing good. It is rather amazing, I think (if I can just get philosophical for a minute) to think that, years from now, a child's life may go in one particular direction instead of another because of a "spark" that was ignited by a bunch of crazy Fodorites (who have never even met, in most cases!) talking to each other by typewriter.

Anyway, I am open to all suggestions on how this thread may usefully proceed, so that it continues to help someplace in need at the same time that it enriches us all by the fellowship that has emerged in the last few days. I bet that what is going on here is pretty unique for a "travel forum" -- I have a feeling that you wouldn't find this on Frommers! -- and I guess that's what I have always loved about the Fodors board: it has always felt like I was writing to old friends in whose company I felt comfortable.

So, can any of these old friends point us in a new direction? For instance... anyone have any contacts in Vietnam?
Alan is offline  
Dec 10th, 2004, 06:21 AM
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just found your post. what a guy.

excellent idea. I know you want to stop the flow to just one school but I am sorry, I was going to say I need to send things from here in Scotland. That wouldnt be true though. I WANT to send things.

If other people come up with other schools or groups then I will do what I can for them too.

In the meantime, I have copied your email and forwarded it to all of my friends in Scotland, England and Ireland and hopefully they will all send packages off as well.

I dont need to see the fantastic smiles on all of the kids faces when they start to receive all of their 'presents' - imagining it is enough of a 'reward'. Not that a reward is needed of course.

If only we had more people like you in the world Alan!!

Merry Christmas everyone!


marie_scotland is offline  
Dec 10th, 2004, 06:26 AM
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Hey Alan, people that are are really forgotten and the closest needy country to our own shores are the children of Papua/New Guinea. I know some would say our own Aboriginal people, but they do receive government benefits. There's a horrendous crime rate in PNG and not really safe place to travel in, just today I paid weekly wage to my PNG cleaner - she had to send it all to her brother in a village near Port Moresby because the rascals had stolen his banana and taro crop, which was all he had to exist on.
pat_woolford is offline  

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