For the second year in a row I have had the privilege of adjudicating the essays of the children who entered the writing contest sponsored by Friends of Child Protection (FCP). What an experience it has been!
FCP is a charity that aids abused children in South Africa. The website contains the staggering statistics on the numbers of children who are sexually abused in the country yearly. As you can read there, FCP does several things to help the children, both directly and indirectly. The charity funds grassroots out-reach organizations, sponsors a safe-house and puts together comfort packs filled with a cuddle toy, bubbles, a sandwich and horror of horror, a pair of underwear – because the children really do need them after what they’ve been subjected to.
The super-woman who runs the charity is Kerrin Marcon, a South African woman who resides in Japan and wants to give back to her countrymen. She and a few other amazing women hold fundraisers, raise awareness and generally support the charity however it needs.
The writing contest was last year’s brain child to raise money. We didn’t have too many entries but this year, due to a change in the way it was disseminated – through the schools instead of word of mouth – there were nearly three times as many.
The writing prompt was pretty simple and spanned all the age groups: Every time you help someone in need, you change the world. If you could do something, write a story about what you would do and why. We divided the kids into groups – 7-9 year olds, 10-12 year olds and 13-18 year olds. The six and under set got to draw a picture in response to the prompt and a separate art judge took care of those.
The ideas that these children came up with were simply phenomenal. Some children wrote about giving money. The more creative kids wrote about how they would raise money and/or what they would do with it after they raised it. There were a few truly creative ideas like building water tanks, forcing companies to give parts of their profits to charity, or even selling cards made by the children of South Africa. One child wrote about how her mother was her role model for charitable giving. One child wrote about the importance of educating parents to take proper care of their kids. And another precocious child wrote about how children have a right to education. The possibilities for saving the world seemed endless to them – and even within their grasp.
And that is why I love working on these essays and enjoy the time I spend reading them for FCP. It reminds me of the goodness of people. Cynicism is learned, not innate, and I get to listen to these great thinkers before the world has crashed in on them and reality sets in.
I feel like the luckiest writing professor in the world.