Sometimes, it’s so moving to see a familiar face. Tauheed and I visited interior Sindh about seven months ago; about two months after this Pakistani region was struck by one of the most devastating floods in the region’s history. I remember seeing rows and rows of tents and enormous plots of land destroyed by stagnant floodwater. But most of all I remember the children. Although some were clearly not in their best shape, they seemed so curious and almost happy to see us. They’d line up in a neat row for pictures that I, once back home, browsed through over and over again. I would never forget their faces. And now, after all this time, I was happy to see some of them, just as smiley and curious as I’d remembered them.

Seven months ago, we decided there we wanted to do something and organized concerts, ran marathons and pestered our friends to raise money for water filters. It wasn’t exactly a flood relief effort, as that is officially the three-month period after a disaster. But it is much-needed rehabilitation. Although most people have returned to their villages, they still run a high risk of getting all sorts of nasty illnesses because of contaminated water. A simple filter can prevent that. Until a proper water system is in place, we hope.
Last week we went back to Sindh to distribute the first batch of filters and make new connections, so we know that the rest of the filters will be in good hands and put to good use. In one village, I remembered almost all of the kids and women (and they probably remembered me, too!) I was so happy to see them back in their houses, as I clearly remember the cramped tents they were living in before. They were proudly showing us around, pointing to their kitchens, their beds, their clothes. They actually seemed quite contended.

But clean water, yes, clean water is still a problem. The hand pump of the village doesn’t go deep enough, so people, especially kids, are prone to all sorts of waterborne diseases. We know our effort was very tiny on the greater scheme of things, but at least we’ve given a few hundred families a little less to worry about until the village is completely up and running again.

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Taeka Haraguchi has been working as Children of Tomorrow’s intern and overall assistant for the past months. She’s doing hundreds of things from getting raffle prizes for out first annual fundraiser to researching curriculum for our project Think Big Nepal. Taeka is a recent college graduate with a degree in Political Science, and is interested in pursuing a career in the NGO and non-profit field.

Taeka explains what she’s learned these past months:

“Taking a seed of an idea and translating that in to a palpable result, while trying to also grow at lightning speed is never easy, but always worth it for the right purpose. I know that it is easy to disqualify the face of suffering when you hear about it in such broad strokes – what are 5000 people more than just a statistic we see rolling across a screen? But what I try to remember, and what I believe the team does, is that fate and fortune never discriminate. Disaster can happen anywhere, and many of us are lucky enough to be born in a developed nation, to have the opportunity to have a relatively decent education provided for us. I appreciate working with this amazing team and am continually stunned at what a little self-determination and kindness can do. We encourage you here at CoT to get involved somehow, and when it comes to helping others, to always, always ‘Think Big’.”

Keep up the good work, Taeka!

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We’re happy and thrilled to announce that our project in Nepal has officially started. We will work together with OLPC, and they just announced they will provide us with 10 laptop to start off with.

The objective of Project Think Big Nepal is to create a yearlong extracurricular academic and mentorship program for 10 children—mostly girls—who have been rescued from slavery or abandonment. Through the use of the laptops, the program will encompass a wide-ranging curriculum that will enhance the children’s understanding of themselves and the world and will foster cognitive, psychological and emotional development.

The curriculum will be divided into 3 parts; each part will take 4 months to complete:

* The first part of the curriculum focuses on geography, peoples of the world, cultures and religions.
* The second part focuses on government, law and human rights.
* The third part focuses on health, the environment and basic science.

Each section will include focused readings, writings, and creative exercises for the particular subjects. The participants will be responsible for teaching younger children at the orphanage what they’re learning, and mentor those who will participate in the program the following year. Although Children of Tomorrow is starting off with ten children due to the OLPC contributors program guidelines, the goal is for this program to grow and expand for years to come.

The objectives of the program are:
* To fill in the gaps in the children’s education due to lack of schooling;
* To broaden their understanding of themselves, society and the world;
* To enhance cognitive development through the use of technology;
* To enhance critical thinking skills through a specialized curriculum in contrast to the rote lessons inherent in the Nepalese school system;
* To develop creative thought and communication skills through various in-class and independent exercises;
* To enhance emotional development through self-empowerment and confidence-building exercises needed after years of victimization;
* To increase interpersonal skills between the students at all age levels, encouraging them to move into leadership roles in the future;
* To create a mentorship program between older and younger children in order to maximize the program’s benefits for years to come;
* To enhance student interaction with each other through the use of technology,  fostering an innovative learning experience outside the classroom.

The children will use the laptops to read given assignments, participate in exercises, as well as to write their own newspapers and create their own storybooks. Participants are responsible to teach some of what they learn to the other children in the orphanage, fostering communication and mentorship skills.

For this project, Children of Tomorrow is partnering with Nepal Orphans Home (NOH), a nonprofit organization in Kathmandu that operates homes for children who’ve been orphaned, abandoned or rescued from bonded labor.

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I’ve been training for the Rotterdam Marathon these past months. It’s not just a personal challenge: I’m running for a cause. During my training, I’ve realized the importance of staying hydrated. Thankfully, I have liters of clean water at my disposal. The children of Sindh, however, do not. Last August, the Sindh region of Pakistan was devastated by massive floods, contaminating the water supply. People still live in makeshift tents and millions of children are suffering from waterborne diseases.

I went to Sindh last October and saw the destruction with my own eyes. I went there as part of Operation Clean Water Pakistan, a flood relief project in which we distribute water filters to the affected areas. These water filters provide clean and safe drinking water for a family for a year. We’ve already received numerous generous donations, and many filters are now under way from China. But we can never have enough filters.

Your support will be a huge motivation! You can support my run with an amount per kilometer (there’s 42 of them) or just give one filter. For €25 you’ll donate a filter that provides water for up to 8 people.

I’m going to Pakistan in May to make sure the filters reach the people who need them the most. These filters will protect vulnerable children until a more permanent clean water system is in place.

If you’re near or in Rotterdam on Sunday, April 10th, come cheer me on! The race starts at 11 am.

Donate now >>
Donations can be made through Children of Tomorrow in the Netherlands. Please specify “Operation Clean Water Pakistan”. And please click on ‘like’ on our Facebook page. You will bring this initiative to the attention of our friends.

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Watch this fantastic video of our NYC Live Music event for Operation Clean Water Pakistan. Who knew that the first concert our CEO Tauheed Khan attended was one of Guns ‘n Roses? He always knew how to rock!

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Here’s a slideshow of the pictures of our Operation Clean Water Pakistan Fundraiser.  Pictures are taken by Courtney D’ne Brown. You can also view the pictures via Facebook.

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Sophia at her raffle table (picture: Courtney D'ne Brown)

Our organization and the fundraiser for Operation Clean Water Pakistan were mentioned in the Huffington Post last week, in the same article that talked about former President Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative Commitment (CGI). This is a movement that aims to bring together leaders from various fields to help find innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

When author Lauren Yanks heard Clinton and several Balkan leaders talk about those “innovative solutions”,  she immediately thought about our NYC fundraiser she attended last week. There, our 12-year-old volunteer Sophia Harmelin spoke about ‘The Movement for New Chances’. For her bat-mitzwah project Sophia had collected money for the water filter flood relief effort. In her speech she said:

“I thought, this is my chance to save lives. Thinking beyond expectation, dreams, and religion is the key to living a happy and free life.”

Another wonderful excerpt from the article:

“What’s a better bat-mitzvah project than to help the children of Pakistan?” Sophia asked, unknowingly answering Clinton’s call to step out of the box.

Read the full article here and please leave a comment!

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We proudly present our poster for Operation Clean Water Pakistan.

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A recent United Nations survey found six percent of children under five in Sindh severely underfed. The province in southern Pakistan was hit by massive floods last Summer. Six months after the disaster, a whopping twenty-five percent of children are malnourished.

“I haven’t seen malnutrition this bad since the worst of the famine in Ethiopia, Darfur and Chad. It’s shockingly bad,” said Karen Allen, deputy head of Unicef in Pakistan, in a Guardian article.

Contaminated or otherwise unsafe drinking water also poses serious health risks, especially for young children. Children of Tomorrow supports Operation Clean Water Pakistan, a flood relief effort providing water filters to flood-affected areas. One water filter provides clean water for one family for one year. The children of Pakistan still need our support!

If you’re in New York City on February 5th, you can’t miss our live music event to help. The admission price is $30, which equals the price of once water filter. Get your tickets here!

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She’s only in middle school, but already wiser than many adults. Just listen to this: “Thinking beyond expectation, dreams, and religion is the key to living a happy and free life.”

Yes, Children of Tomorrow is beyond proud to have Sophia Harmelin from Philadelphia on board. When her aunt told her about our NGO, she decided to do something. A few weeks later, she organized a fundraising drive at a local Border’s bookstore and raised $190 selling CoT bracelets. That is, up to now, because Sophia is unstoppable.

If only everyone could have just a bit of Sophia’s outlook on life, the world would be such a different place. Again, listen: “When you live your life trying to be the same as the people around you it is hard to be known as your own person. Breaking out and always being yourself is the best way to achieve your dreams and goals. Always remember that it is the little things that count, and to NEVER STOP SMILING! Have Fun and Be Yourself.” Did we mention she was twelve and a half years old?

Sophia is going to have her bat-mitzvah in June, which means she needs to do a service project. We’re happy that she has chosen Children of Tomorrow. On May 1st, Sophia is going to organize a May Day Carnival at her school. It’s going to be a fun day full of games and events, such as face paint and a raffle. She’ll ask local stores to donate materials and prizes.

Sophia wants to be either a columnist when she grows up, or have her own bakery. Whatever she decides to do, we’ll think she’ll be a huge success!

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