Little People With Big Hearts Taking Action

Martin in class


We’ve been especially inspired recently by our latest donor story about two young boys, strangers to one another, but who nevertheless have intersected with one another’s hearts and hopes across oceans and vast continents. Jack is a first grader at Queen Anne Elementary in Seattle, WA and many of you have “met” Dwankhozi Community School student, Martin (pictured right), through the video (click to view) we recently shared with all of you on our website.  Jack’s mom, Katie, a teacher at Queen Anne Elementary, brought Jack to our video release event this past year. We recently sat down with the two of them for a little visit and to ask Jack to tell us more about his story.

Jack and Katie had talked about Dwankhozi Hope long before they attended the video release event, but he said it hadn’t really captured his interest – until he saw Martin’s story that evening. He couldn’t stop thinking about it and talking about it, watching the video many more times after the event.  It wasn’t long before an idea began to take shape. Jack’s seventh birthday was coming up. Instead of getting presents from his friends, he could ask them to bring donations for Martin and his friends at DCS. “It was a hard decision,” he said, nodding his head seriously, “but, then…,” he shrugged and nodded again, “I just decided.” And that was that. Katie shared Jack’s plans with us and we went straight to work, braiding Zambian cloth bracelets for party favors. It was a sort of meditation of gratitude and humility as we made those bracelets, recalling what it was like to turn seven and imagining the gravity of the decision to forego the excitement and significance of receiving birthday gifts at that age.

Invitations for the party went out, giving the choice for his friends to bring a gift or to choose to bring a donation. Martin’s video was played for his classmates. A large glass jar was decorated with photos of Martin and the school, balloons were attached to the jar and rocks from the family’s garden kept the empty jar from floating away as they waited for the guests to arrive at the park for Jack’s celebration day. Every single friend chose to bring a donation for Martin and they raised over $400.00 that day. Coming home from the party, Jack was clasping the jar in the back seat, “I feel so good,” he told his parents, “Grown up.” Jack’s teachers and principal recognized his philanthropic undertaking during the school’s morning assembly a few weeks ago where Jack presented Matt MacLean of Dwankhozi Hope with his donation jar (pictured below).

Thank you, Jack!

Matt and Jack had a chance to discuss where Jack wanted the donation to be put to use, and, as an avid soccer player and fan he was excited to hear that this was a passion he shared with the kids of DCS. His donation will be used to maintain the school’s soccer supplies and uniforms.

There is something incredibly moving and inspiring about a child who has experienced that he is absolutely able to make a significant difference for others in the world. Jack and his mom are already thinking about how he and his friends at Queen Anne Elementary can begin to create even more meaningful relationships and interactions with Martin and all the kids of DCS – perhaps as pen-pals or via some kind of learning exchange between schools. And he has some ideas about that glass donation jar, too! He’s suggested that it could be made available to any other kids who might want to find a way to make a difference too – a sort of “Follow the Jar” kids-to-kids program. To Jack and to all his friends who joined him in the fundraiser, we want to express our deep gratitude! You are an example and an inspiration to all of us. We are so proud to count each of you as partners in this amazing, international community-building journey we’re taking together!