Changing lives through education

DSCN4569I think this is a first for the Wishful Thinking Works blog, but my friend and former Peace Corps Volunteer, Katrina, and her friends are doing such good things in a country I consider my second home, I had to share their work with you. It’s a perfect Wishful Thinking Works kind-of story: They are making a difference, and it all began with a wish of a very special former teacher in Macedonia

Katrina and I have a lot in common, we both served in the United States Peace Corps in Macedonia; we each spent three months in the same amazing host village of Chaska, and we both have been involved in projects in Macedonia since our service ended. 

Here is the story of the Ethnic Turkish Educational and Cultural Foundation, which Katrina and others created to make positive difference in the lives of others. The words and photos are all theirs; more information can be found at their web site.

About

ETECFoundation grants provide impoverished ethnic Turkish and Roma children with the opportunity to go to school with books, school supplies, backpacks, shoes and support services.   ETECFoundation partners with K.U.D Kardeşlik, a Macedonian NGO, to provide scholarships to primary school children.”

History

“As a Peace Corps volunteer in Macedonia (2005-2007), I had the good fortune to meet a man with a vision for the children in his community, located in Strumica, DSCN4585Macedonia  Though my Macedonian was poor and his primary language was Turkish, this former teacher was able to communicate his desire to work toward his vision that every ethnic Turkish and Roma child that wanted to go to school, would be able to do so.  We shared a belief that Education is the cornerstone of peace.

In May 2007 K.U.D. Kardeşlik, a Macedonian NGO, under the Direction of Emin Eminov, created the Children to School project to target children most at risk for being unable to obtain an education: children who not only faced insurmountable economic barriers but also had only one parent or were without parents. In addition to the scholarship criteria, attendance and achievement standards were set for scholarship recipients.

For the balance of my service in Macedonia in 2007, I worked with K.U.D. Kardeşlik to obtain funding for “Children to School” through Peace Corps Partnership Program advise on organizational management to Director Eminov and the Board.  In the process we engaged the interest and support of other Peace Corps Volunteers also serving in Macedonia.  Most notably, a former school teacher working across the country in Debar, Gail Graor.  Gail visited Strumica and got hooked on the “Children to School” program and the commitment of Director Eminov.  Together we pledged to continue our service to at risk children and families in this community, through raising funds in the USA for our partner NGO, K.U.D. Kardeşlik.

In August, 2009 we obtained 501(c)(3) designation for ETECFoundation so that all contributions  are tax-deductible charitable donations.  We deeply appreciate your support of our mission to promote the advancement and education of the ethnically Turkish and Roma minorities in Macedonia.”

If you would like to get more involved, visit their web site . . .

“$788 will send a child to school for one year

$245 will buy lunch for one child for the school year

$35 will buy school supplies and a backpack for one child

$21 will buy a sturdy pair of shoes for one child”

Never, ever think that one person cannot make a difference.  And, remember when like-minded people work together mountains can be moved, lives can be changed, and the effects can last for generations!

Have a great week, and keep dreaming those dreams.

My bags are unpacked . . .

 

We are all traveling, just on different paths.                     P. Koerper, 2008

I have settled back into Bitola, Macedonia where I spent three years as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer from 2006-09. This is my second trip back to visit my friends and work on projects in this ever beautiful, ancient country.

Today I head to Greece to meet an American, who will be joining me here for two weeks. She heard me talk at a library in Florida about Macedonia, and decided to join me this year. Her adventure will be magnified as we try to cross the Greek border, which is closed due to strikes. I love that she sees this as all part of the fun. She travels well.

Speaking of adventures, here are a few photos from Bitola. I am having trouble loading photos, many more to follow.   To say I am glad to be back, doesn’t begin to capture the feelings I’m experiencing. There is a sweet sense of self that emerges each time I am here. I love walking foreign streets, and feeling like I am home.

View of Bitola from my friend Evi’s balcony where I am staying.

Bridal bread from a traditional village wedding.

Dancing the oro at traditional village wedding

 

Hope your journey is going well, and your path is bringing you much joy. And, as always, wish you were here.

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