Wow! We won the NGO of the Year award from Nations United

Iffat+RobinOn Sunday, Pencils for Kids received the NGO of the Year award from Nations United, an organization dedicated to providing a platform for humanitarian causes. It was voted on by the public and is awarded to the NGO that people believe is an example for other NGOs to follow in terms of their practices. We are honoured and humbled by this award. It was an evening filled with humour, entertainment, and heartwarming stories. And it reminded us of how lucky we are to have been in the company of so many good organizations and people.

But how did we get there? So many people have impacted our journey for the past six years. Our P4K team has given countless hours of service, without ever seeking personal reward or recognition. Every member of our Executive brings their own special talents to the table day in and day out. An extraordinary group of caring, dynamic people.

Our colleagues at Pivot Design Group have treated this project as if it was their pride and joy from the very beginning of our association. I can’t even recall the number of times I have called, emailed and discussed website issues with Karen Ha, the person in charge of our file.  She has always taken the time to explain, to perfect, to initiate and to innovate.  The pivot team truly cares about the people in Niger and it reflects in their passion for the work. And it feels like only yesterday when Ian Chalmers said to me that he wanted his company, Pivot Design Group to be involved, to donate its time freely to P4K. Our website and communication materials speak volumes about their attention to detail and design. And they have always added their “heart” to the work at hand. Without a visual platform like no one would know who we are. And they have never once asked for anything in return except to be part of the P4K effort. To every person at Pivot, a very special and heartfelt THANK YOU. Our award would not have happened without you.

Here is the acceptance speech from Sunday night, June 24th:

Six years ago we heard that 30 children were sharing one pencil in a community in Niger, West Africa, called Liboré. Our hearts broke, and we were moved to take action. “Let’s help one community educate their children”, we decided, and see if we can make a difference.

Despite barriers of language, culture, distance and safety, and with no knowledge of international development, we jumped in. As Ray Bradbury, the brilliant science fiction author once said, “Go to the edge of the cliff, jump off, and build your wings on the way down”. That’s what we did.

We are extremely grateful to Nations United for offering organizations like ours, and the other wonderful ones nominated tonight, a platform to speak and to be heard. Tonight, because of you, and all those who voted for us, the wings we have been building can soar to new heights. You honour us, just as we have tried to honour the people of Liboré.

The people of Liboré, are the genuine recipients of this award. They struggle to survive. To get food and water. To receive an education. They are participating fully in remaking their own future. Each school, kindergarten, farmers program or sewing centre has been conceived and built together. Kinder, wiser and more hospitable people I have yet to meet.

Your award of NGO of the year — recognizes that this is a team effort. And P4k is a team. A family. Entirely volunteer. Thousands have helped us give children in Niger a chance for a better life. Here with me tonight is Iffat from Pivot Design Group, the group that has so beautifully designed our website and communication materials, freely as volunteers. Thank you. And thank you to every single volunteer on our team. This is for you.

Finally, a huge thank you to our families — who have supported our efforts and commitment and loved the children in Liboré as much as we have.

Let me end with my favorite anonymous quote about a pencil:

A pencil maker told the pencil 5 important lessons just before putting it in the box :

He said:

  1. Everything you do will always leave a mark.
  2. you can always correct the mistakes you make.
  3. what is important is what is inside of you.
  4. in life, you will undergo painful sharpenings, which will only make you better.
  5. To be the best pencil, you must allow yourself
  6. To be held and guided by the hand that holds you.

Thanks for holding our hand.

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