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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Activities & Organizations

Students join organization to help needy African schools, children

Many students in Ghana, West Africa are forced to drop out of school because they don’t have basic school supplies — not even pencils.

A new organization, Pencil Project, has formed to help with this issue.

“I was inspired to begin the project after seeing a photo of an African boy clutching a stubby broken pencil,” founder of the Pencil Project Maria Vick said. “My thought was that all the world’s children should have access to the tools they need to learn. If a needy child had a pencil, they could write down assignments to get educated and then return to their communities to empower others.”

In the summer of 2009, they went with the UH African American Studies Department to Ghana to assist the communities and donate school supplies.

It wasn’t until after their visit that the Pencil Project formed. They went back to Ghana in summer 2010 and donated 30,000 pencils to several schools.

“I think it is a very thoughtful and wonderful idea that they would do this to help other students in other countries,” biology junior Karen Harris said. “I admire them for donating their time and supplies to such a great cause.”

On Sunday, they will be going back to Ghana and will hand out another 20,000 pencils, which puts them at 300,000 pencils and counting. They will also perform quarter assessments of the schools that they visited in July.

“I had never heard about this project before, but it sounds wonderful, and I think I would love to make a contribution to it,” psychology freshman David Grant said. “We are helping a great cause.”

They have already seen a lot of people donate and continue to help.

“The response has been completely overwhelming and exceeded my expectations,” Vick said. “People are always eager to help and I am never short of volunteers. It is an easy project for volunteers of all ages.”

The Pencil Project not only donates pencils, but other school supplies as well. Students can donate pencils in the AAS Department, located in room 629 of the Agnes Arnold Hall.

UH student Randryia Houston, who participated in the AAS Summer Study Abroad in Ghana and later joined the Pencil Project, said that they hope to have a school compound or a clinical boarding school in three to five years.

“The future of the Pencil Project is bright,” Vick said. “We are currently considering becoming a nonprofit organization so we can collect more items like Smart Boards and computers for schools in need.”

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