Written By Mouaz Moustafa
At the start of 2022, a branch of the Letters of Hope program was opened at Haileybury Almaty, Kazakhstan (by two SETF interns Rabia and Selin). This began as a small extra curricular activity that a group of 10 high school students attended at break times or after school once a week, but soon more people became interested in the initiative, eventually, leading to two larger scale events being organized.
In July, the initially small school club partnered with a local volunteering organization ‘League of Volunteers’, which attracted more volunteers to the cause and helped provide supplies for the workshops. Through this partnership, over 30 volunteers wrote 150 letters within the span of one 3-hour session. The goal was to write over 150 letters in order for every child attending the Wisdom House kindergarten and every teacher working there to receive a letter. The Wisdom House Kindergarten, located in Idlib, Syria, aims to create great normalcy and provide education to children displaced from the war. Each year, the Wisdom House kindergarten helps 130 students, mostly orphans and displaced from war. The letters were decorated with colorful illustrations and many were translated into Arabic.
When Aleppo was on the verge of falling to the regime after a long beseignment, fliers were dropped to the civilians, saying “the world has left you alone to face your doom.” The purpose of the Letters of Hope program is to send a counter-message to the people suffering in Syria. The Wisdom House kindergarten has said that emotional support is just as important as the material aid provided.
The July Letters of Hope event was such a success that this inspired the organizers of this event to hold a charm bracelet making session as well. Over 80 enthusiastic volunteers helped in the bracelet making session. The charm bracelets will also be gifted to the children attending at the Wisdom House kindergarten and their teachers, as a reminder that they have not been forgotten about.
Zhibek, a volunteer who participated at the events shared her thoughts in the statement below:
“When I first heard about the initiative, I was ready to offer any help! I’ve been volunteering for years and hearing about everything that they’ve been through, especially at a young age, really pushed me to help! At first it was difficult – juggling school work, extracurriculars, other volunteer work and this was rather hard. But we pushed through by getting the help of a local volunteer group I was a part of! We managed to make all the letters and even additional bracelets! Meeting all those kind people and contributing to such a great deed was rewarding. I really enjoyed the workshops and I hope to participate again in the future!”
The summer Letters of Hope and Charm Bracelet making events were the culmination of the past several months of the program in Almaty. They have successfully paved the way for the organization of more events in support of the Letters of Hope program and the Wisdom House.