It all began in the fall of 2005 when Canadian athletes participated in the “The Games of La Francophonie” in Niger, West Africa. During the Games a group of athletes visited a school in Liboré, a commune outside Niamey, the capital of Niger.
What they saw shocked them.
Thirty children in one classroom were sharing one pencil. There were few books and fewer supplies, no electricity and no running water. The athletes donated books that they brought with them from Canada.
Dan Galbraith, a photographer for the Canadian Team returned to Toronto, but found day to day life hard to manage after having witnessed the extreme poverty in Niger.
He called Robin Mednick and she sensed something was not right, as Dan sounded distraught on the phone.
He explained that he could not get the images of the children in Niger out of his mind. His pain was so tangible Robin instinctively said,
“Dan, let’s not talk about it, let’s do something!”
Constructing The Team
Molly Killingbeck enthusiastically committed to the cause without even knowing what it would entail.
And David Crombie, former Mayor of Toronto, and Federal Cabinet Minister, agreed to be an Advisor.
Michael Williams, Manager of a local business supply store said, “I decided this year it was not going to be about me, I want to join your team”!
So too was the heartfelt response of Ian Chalmers of Pivot Design Group who offered not only to donate his services to create the website, but to join the Pencils for Kids team as well.
Brad Gibson generously donated thousands of pens and pencils, and embraced our focus on education.
Louise Sherman visited Liboré for a month and loved the children she taught.
Gilda Rovan heard about us and jumped in to help with Administration.
David Kraft facilitated many meetings about where P4K was going, and decided to “go with us”!
Connecting with Liboré
With the community’s “wish list” in hand, the team began collecting school supplies that were so desperately needed and then sending them to Niger, care of the generosity of DHL.
Robin contacted the Canadian Embassy in Niger who put her in touch with Amadou Madougou, Mayor of Liboré.
After visiting Liboré in May 2007 for the first time, the relationship between Pencils for Kids and the community was forever forged.
First School Opening
Oulmantama Village, in the community of Liboré, Niger
The first Pencils for Kids school was built in September 2007, in the village of Oulmantama where children had never before had access to education.
Since that school opening in September, Pencils for Kids has worked to create a variety of sustainable programs in the community and income generating opportunities for women. The official opening of the school was in November 2007. Today over 100 students attend that first P4K school.
That is how Pencils for Kids was born - with a simple phone call, a simple act, a simple plan. Every child in the world deserves the opportunity to dream, to imagine, to learn and to achieve. A pencil is just the start. But it will always be the symbol of communication, literacy and hope.