The changing seasons, the end of another school year, and a special Bridges of Peace and Hope anniversary are all reminders of the passage of time. In July of 2009 we officially received our 501c3 non-profit certificate and Bridges of Peace and Hope was born. That was 10 years ago. In some ways that seems like a long time, but it has passed quickly. This milestone is cause for looking back, looking forward, and giving thanks.
We started out as a small, all volunteer, non-profit with a mission of connecting students and teachers around the world to promote respect and understanding across and within cultures. Our method of doing this is to enable groups of students to participate in collaborative, creative projects so they can learn about the world, express their thoughts and feelings, and help others when possible. We are building bridges of understanding and cooperation at a time when many forces are trying to divide us by promoting fear and emphasizing our differences.
After 10 years we are still a small, all volunteer group but thanks to many caring and dedicated friends we have made a considerable impact in the lives of the students and teachers we serve. Here are just a few facts and figures that demonstrate certain aspects of our impact:
- Since 2009, over 120,000 students from more than 50 countries have participated in BoPH projects or attended BoPH presentations.
- BoPH members, partners and friends have actively supported our model partner, the Mukwashi Trust School (MTS) in Lusaka, Zambia. Led by Ms. Laura Manni, BoPH has helped raise more than $125,000, enabling the school to build new classrooms, a high school and science lab, and new sanitation facilities for the girls attending the school. MTS students and teachers exemplify what “hope” looks and sounds like in our world.
- BoPH Clubs have been formed and are active in schools in the USA, Africa, and Europe. Club activities include student led goodwill projects and artistic collaborations with peers around the world. Our web site documents many club activities.
- To date, BoPH has raised over $195,000 to assist schools and performing artists in developing countries. One aspect of this support has been to facilitate teacher training and teacher exchange programs. Teachers from North America and Europe have visited Africa to work alongside their peers there, and teachers from Mukwashi School in Zambia have visited their sister school the American International School of Vienna in Austria. Together, teachers from the two schools attended and presented as a team at the prestigious CEESA conference in Bulgaria.
Below are photos that represent some of our special moments of building bridges during the past ten years.
We look to the future with hope and gratitude. In a world beset with great injustice and many challenges, it is important to remember that none of the world’s problems were caused by children. The children in our schools today will be the leaders who work for a more just and peaceful tomorrow. Helping connect young people in ways that promote understanding, empathy and cooperation will continue to be our passion. There are too many people to thank individually here but please know that we are grateful to EVERYONE that has supported us in any way.
May your summer be filled with good health, love and wonder.