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Give in to Hope Day 17: Bana al-Abed

For over a decade, Syria, a country in the Middle East, has been in the midst of a brutal civil war. In 2016,Bana al-Abed, only 7 years old, began sharing messages about the war in her home country through her mother’s Twitter account. Her mother had been an English teacher, and Bana had dreamed of being a teacher too, before the war forced her to stop going to school. Sharing info about hunger, lack of electricity, missing school and friends, and how the war made her feel, her tweets captivated the world, giving people a chance to learn about what was happening from a very different perspective than what they read in newspapers. Bana and her family eventually were able to escape from Syria to Turkey, and became Turkish citizens. Bana continues to write and speak out against war, particularly its negative impact on children and families.

For more information about Bana al-Abed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BY12wgAiqp4

or https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/04/14/bana-al-abed-the-7-year-old-girl-who-endured-the-battle-of-aleppo-is-writing-a-book/

Why do you think Bana’s story was so powerful? How might a kid talking about violence and war make people pay more attention than an adult talking about it? Bana got a lot of support from her mother to help her get her story out–what are different ways that your family supports you?

Closing prayer: Dear God, no matter if we are big or little, we have lots to say that people need to hear. Amen

Give in to Hope Day 16: Claudette Colvin

It is important to know that even though famous Civil Rights activists like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks are no longer with us, others who were key parts of the movement, people like Ruby Bridges and Claudette Colvin are still very much alive, and about the age of your grandparents! The Civil Rights movement is not as far back in history as we might think, and we still have so much work to do, but we need to be so thankful for brave people like 15-year-old Claudette Colvin, who actually refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person a whole 9 months before Rosa Parks did! Colvin was also arrested and charged with “disturbing the peace” and violating segregation laws, as she yelled that her rights were being violated and fought back as she was being forcibly removed from the bus by white police officers. Unfortunately, the brave and bold Claudette did not receive credit or publicity for her pioneering activism because she was seen as a less “marketable” representative of the Black community than Rosa Parks–Colvin was young, darker-skinned, and pregnant and unmarried. Rosa Parks was considered less “threatening” to white people, so her refusal to stand got all of the press at the time and began the bus boycott. However, Claudette Colvin and 4 other women were the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case that eventually overturned bus segregation, and ever since, Colvin and her family have been fighting for the recognition she deserves. Young people should not be seen as less respectable than older people, and Claudette Colvin is as much of a lion in the Civil Rights movement as Rosa Parks, and should be celebrated alongside her.

To learn more about Claudette Colvin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3NvXzFOb6w

or https://www.npr.org/2009/03/15/101719889/before-rosa-parks-there-was-claudette-colvin

Why do some people feel like they have the right to treat people disrespectfully, just because they are younger, a different race, a different gender, etc?

Claudette Colvin is not the only person in history who was “written out of history” because her story wasn’t as “simple” or “acceptable” to (usually) white people. How does it feel to learn that history doesn’t always tell the whole truth?

Closing prayer: Dear God, we are thankful for brave Black women like Claudette. She was written out of the story, and this happens a lot. Help us write her, and others like her, back in. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 15: Kelvin Doe

Kelvin Doe grew up in Sierra Leone, a country on the west African coast that often struggled with consistent electricity. Kelvin’s hometown had electric lights as little as one day per month, which makes day-to-day living challenging. Kelvin loved finding old pieces of technology, taking them apart to see how they work, and putting them back together. Using just trash he found in this community, as a 15-year-old, he created batteries, a generator, and a radio station that could broadcast information to his town! He was able to come to the US to study at M.I.T., considered one of the best STEM universities in the world, and was one of their youngest students. He continues to invent new items that not only recycle discarded materials, making them accessible and affordable (free!), but also useful for poor communities around the world.

To learn more about Kelvin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOLOLrUBRBY

What would it be like if you only had light in your house, your classroom, or your city one day per month? How would that change the way you live? What is something you wish you could invent?

Closing prayer: Dear God, Kelvin saw potential in what others just saw as trash. Help us see all people and things for their potential and possibility. Amen

Give in to Hope Day 14: Zuriel Oduwole

Zuriel Oduwole is a girl who loves school. Growing up in California, she enjoyed going to school every day, and in her free time, focused on her other hobby–movie making! At 12, she made a documentary about Ghana, as part of a school competition, and to make her movie, brave Zuriel reached out to, and got to interview 2 former presidents of Ghana! She loved learning about different countries in Africa, and was fearless in her efforts to communicate with important people in the different countries she made movies about. She’s interviewed presidents from over 20 African countries as well as other world leaders for various documentaries she has created. Throughout her work and research, she has become most focused on giving more African girls access to education, and her films and talks cover how a variety of different issues, including racism, sexism, poverty and climate change impact a girl’s ability to attend school.  She has worked on a variety of different initiatives and programs, all with the goal of better education, support and resources for girls in Africa and the Caribbean. She uses film to tell stories of people that far too often are not heard or seen.

To learn more about Zuriel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuTAWVpMGAc

What are the things that you love most about going to school? What are some of the different things you can think of that might be reasons a person wouldn’t be able to attend school? How does school help make the world a more fair and equal place?

Closing prayer: Dear God, education is for everyone. Thank you for school, and may we help everyone have a chance to learn. Amen

Give in to Hope Day 13: Anne Frank

During World War 2, Jewish people in Europe were not safe. Adolph Hitler, the leader of the Nazis, wanted to kill all Jewish people. In order to stay safe, Anne Frank and her family hid for over 2 years in a secret set of rooms hidden behind a wall in her father’s former place of work. During that time, Anne continued her schooling, and also wrote in a diary, which became one of the most well-known accounts of life under Hitler and the Nazis. Sadly, Anne and her family were arrested in 1944 and sent to a concentration camp (a very horrible place, like a prison for mainly Jewish people) and she and her sister died from an illness and lack of medical care just a few months later. Anne was only 15 when she died, but her words help millions of people around the world, especially children and young people, understand not only the terrifying life Anne and her family (and many Jews) had to lead, but also how bravery, creativity and intelligence helped people like Anne make it through their experiences.

To learn more about Anne Frank: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ond6r5pafjw

or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7A1Ya-5Ey0

Can you imagine living in a space as small as only one or two rooms in your house, and never getting to go outside, for 2 years? What might you do to keep yourself busy?

Anne and her family had to hide because a group of people wanted to kill all people that were different than them, particularly Jewish people. How does someone become so frightened of people that are different than them? What are things our family can do to celebrate differences and learn about different kinds of people?

Closing prayer: Dear God, let us never forget the horrible things that people have done to one another. By remembering them, it helps us make sure they don’t happen again. Amen

Give in to Hope Day 12: Vanessa Nakate

Like many of us, Vanessa Nakate was inspired by the powerful young activist Greta Thunberg, and started her own weekly climate strike in Uganda, first for many weeks alone, and then with other young people who were inspired by her and joined her. Her focus on climate justice is inspired by her county’s agricultural backbone–climate change is terrible for people trying to grow crops, and crops provide food for the country, but also their major source of income through trade. In addition, she talks about climate change as a young, African woman, adding a new voice to the conversation, and ensuring that people do not forget about how climate change can even more negatively affect women, people of color, people in developing nations, and people in poverty. Raising her voice alongside other climate activists, she wants to be sure that Africa is part of the worldwide changes that must be made to solve our climate crisis.

To learn more about Vanessa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFEY9lqIP7E

How do you think Vanessa felt, when she was protesting all alone every week? What do you think helped her stay committed to her goal? Why do you think people were inspired to join her?

Closing prayer: Dear God, help us make sure that no one has to stand up for injustices alone. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 11: Greta Thunberg

When thinking of young people who changed the world, Greta Thunberg is a name that comes immediately to mind for many of us. At only 15, Greta began one-person weekly sit-ins outside of Swedish parliament, gaining attention and using the opportunity to spread the word about the need for more world leaders to take stronger actions to prevent climate change. Many other young people saw her passion and commitment and began youth-led climate strikes of their own, called Fridays for Future, with young people doing sit-ins weekly in nearly every country in the world. Greta is fearless when talking to world leaders about climate change, and passionate about ensuring that the responsibility for improving the world does not only fall on the young, but that the adults who currently are in power have a great responsibility to future generations. Even during COVID, when speeches, protests and gatherings had to go virtual, Thunberg continued to get the word out, reminding people that as we see the benefits of science and listen to scientists who are talking about and working on cures for COVID, so too should we listen to scientists who are researching climate change and offering suggestions on how to take better care of our planet.

To learn more about Greta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMrtLsQbaok  OR

Do you ever get frightened if you have to talk to adults? How do you think Greta stays so brave and confident when she has to speak in front of so many different people?

Closing prayer: Dear God, let us speak important words, even when our voice shakes. Amen

Give in to Hope Day 10: Amanda Gorman

As a child with both an auditory processing disorder and a speech impediment, Amanda Gorman focused attention on reading and writing–she figured out a way to harness the power of words, instead of letting them control her. Poetry and writing helped her paint a picture of the world around her, and she uses this gift to tell stories of what it means to be a human in very exciting ways. After being inspired by Malala Yousafzai, Gorman became a youth delegate to the United Nations, and then became the first-ever Youth Poet Laureate (the Poet Laureate is considered “the official poet of the United States” for a specific period of time, with a goal of helping increase appreciation of, access to, and creation of writing and poetry). While performing one of her poems at an event, Dr. Jill Biden heard her, and was deeply inspired. When it came time for the Biden/Harris Inaugeration, Dr. Biden selected Gorman to write and read a poem for the event. The poem, The Hill We Climb, was completed by Gorman the morning of the Inaugeration, and both poem and poet inspired millions of people around the world; her words giving hope to, but also expecting work from, all of us to help create the democracy we want to be a part of.

To learn more about Amanda Gorman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuOMApb1qBs

https://time.com/5933596/amanda-gorman-michelle-obama-interview/ (May be behind a paywall if you’ve already read too many Time articles this month!)

In her poem from the Inaugeration, Gorman writes,

“When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Can you think of things around you that help you feel lighter and brighter if you are feeling angry or sad? How about ways that you help others feel lighter and brighter?

Dear God, Help us turn the things that challenge us into things that change us and can change the world. Amen

Give in to Hope Day 9: Nick Lowinger

Like yesterday’s hero Yash and his glasses, Nick Lowinger also had something many of us take for granted–lots of pairs of shoes. One day, young Nick visited a homeless shelter and saw how many of the children and teens there did not have shoes that fit or were practical for running, playing and going to school. The image of kids without shoes stayed with Nick and he did a shoe drive as part of his bar mitzvah (a ceremony that Jewish 12 and 13 year olds go through as part of their faith journey, like when our 8th graders do confirmation) that turned into a non-profit dedicated to providing as many pairs of shoes to homeless youth as possible. Nick’s non-profit is still running, and now has 2 partner programs–one providing shoes to veterans (people who served in the U.S. military) and another specifically providing athletic shoes so that kids can participate in sports.

To learn more about Nick and the Gotta Have Sole Foundation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6i2QIvYmqU

Think about your favorite pair of shoes–where did they come from? Were they a gift? What do you like to do in them? What would it be like to only have one pair of shoes to do every activity in–are there things you wouldn’t do anymore?

Closing prayer: Dear God, whether big or little, let me be grateful for all of the things that I have in my life, especially my shoes. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 8: Yash Gupta

Like so many kids, Yash Gupta wears glasses. One day, his glasses broke, and he had to go to school without them. He realized that it was impossible for him to learn without being able to see, and he wondered how many kids around the world were struggling to learn because they didn’t have access to glasses. Rather than just keep wondering, he decided to start collecting glasses and connecting these glasses with kids who needed them. His small project turned into a big deal, helping over 20,000 kids in 5 countries see better and find more success in school!

To learn more about Yash Gupta, and his organization Sight Learning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFwmM2DZ-Ak

Humans have 5 senses–sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. Which of these would be the hardest for you to live without? How would being without one of those senses affect your learning at school?

Closing prayer: Dear God, please let us look at others, even those who are different, and SEE that we have more in common than we think. Amen.