Beading for Darfur
Most 10-year-old girls anticipate the ritual of weekend sleepovers with their best friends, the pandemonium of a new High School Musical movie or the debut of a new Webkinz such as the charming Yorkie Cheerleader.
But Amy Penman is not like most 10-year-old girls.
With the two weeks of freedom that Christmas break awards all students, Amy, who lives in Cochrane, chose to do something to help the refugee children and families in Darfur, Sudan.
“I was thinking that they should get a chance to have a better life than what they are having right now,” Amy said.
“If Canada was in that country then things would be totally different.”
For the last 20 years Sudan has been rocked by civil war and the Darfuri people have been living in a state of genocide of their own people. Ninety per cent of Darfuri people now live in internally displaced camps scattered across Sudan, their villages destroyed, entire families wiped out.
Three hundred thousand have been killed and the number continues to climb.
Amy heard her aunt, Yvette Penman, talking at her school just before Christmas about Darfur and decided she could do something for the people whose sole focus for years has just been survival.She made bracelets, 27 beaded trinkets, each with their own design and colourful array of shiny jewels.
“I had different coloured beads, some of them were in different patterns. We sold them for $10,” Amy said.
Working with Yvette, Amy raised $270 over Christmas break and has now decided that the proceeds should go to the Darfur Dream Team, an organization that focuses on ensuring education and building schools for Darfuri refugees living in the African nation of Chad.
Darfur Dream Team works in affiliation with organizations such as Enough, Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, Facing History and Ourselves, I-ACT, ninemillion.org, STAND, and Takepart.
Barbara Butt, executive director of the Darfurian Congress Council of Canada, said she was surprised when she received an email from Yvette stating the amount of money that Amy had raised.
“It brought a tear to my eye … I was absolutely impressed, dumbfounded in gratitude,” Butt said.
The timing couldn’t have been better either as Butt recounts how on that specific day, the frustrations of trying to bring awareness to a poignant but often forgotten cause were weighing on her.
“That day when that came, I felt like thank goodness there is someone out there that feels the same as I do. For Amy and for the children I’ll keep going,” Butt said.
In Canada $270 might buy groceries for a family for two weeks, but in Darfur $100 can support up to five families a month, Butt said.
She said that she admires Amy, a girl who at such a young age chose to do something and just decided to start it herself.
“It’s not what you do, but that you do it,” Butt said. “Trust that it will help.”
“How wonderful that it takes a child to unite the world and to understand that we’re all working at this together.”
Amy’s efforts resulted in a group of admirers that extended beyond Butt, including her school friends, her family and Amy’s first customer, her 90-year-old great-grandmother Doris Large.
“We were making them, and had them all set out. She purchased one and was wearing it and was very excited,” Amy said.
Amy says she will probably start a new project sometime next year but this time focus on something other than bracelets.
When asked the question of what she would tell the children and families in Darfur, Amy responded by saying, “I hope your life will be just as well as mine someday.”