The school year in Azerbaijan ends on May 31st with a big celebration called the "last bell". The students are so excited to not have to go to school for another 3 1/2 months; they're just as excited as students in the US. When I think back to my summer "vacations", all I can remember is that there was something to do every single day, whether that be going to Carowinds, making trips to go see my Grandparents in South Carolina, cookouts, going to Myrtle Beach, church camps, sports camps, or just hanging out at the pool with friends and family. I would imagine many of you remember the same sorts of things.
The children in Azerbaijan do not have any of this to look forward to. Sure, they don't have to go to school, and yes maybe they'll go visit a family member in Baku or make a day trip to the sea, but for the most part, these kids are sitting at home watching TV or playing with their neighbors in the yard. While being lazy is great for about 15 minutes... they quickly get bored!
My friend Jane and I have decided to do a Summer Camp for these students in July of this year. Let me assure you that the idea of a summer camp is something these kids have NEVER even heard of! And yet...they could not be more excited about it! Jane orchestrated this camp last year by herself at her school in Lankaran (the city close-by), and this year we're working together so that the kids from my village of Liman can participate too! We'll have three weeks of camp: an Environmental Week, a Sports Week and an Arts & Crafts Week.
And here's where YOU come in.
I need your help.
We need money. We need money for camp supplies, for fans (no A/C here!), and most of all for transportation. I will have to transport my students from Liman to Lankaran (about a 30 minute drive) everyday, and I do not want these kids to have to pay. I don't want one single obstacle to get in the way of these students being able to participate in the camp, giving them something constructive to do during their summer vacation. The transportation will be about 80 cents per day per student, which sounds like so little, but can really add up over a three week period of time. A lot of the money we raise will go to buying arts and sports supplies that just don't exist in Azerbaijan, and to the shipping costs we will rack up in getting them over here. I have already been spreading the word about camp. Believe it or not some of the childrens' parents will not allow them to go, all of them girls. I cannot begin to explain how disappointing this is for me. However, I must say, it makes me want to work even harder for the children who will be able to go. And I need your help with that.
How can you contribute? Good question...
"For it is in giving that we receive" (St. Francis of Asissi) :)
Jane and I have been approved for a Peace Corps Partnership Program grant. This is an excellent opportunity that Peace Corps has set up for PC Volunteers' friends, family members, and other communities back home in the US get involved and support the Volunteer they know doing projects abroad. All you have to do is go to the website that Peace Corps has set up for us and give the amount that you can afford. Now, I know there is an economic crisis going on, but any little bit counts. I encourage you to tell your own friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors etc. about this opportunity.
Here's the link!
PCPP- Summer Camp in Azerbaijan
Let me just say thank you, right now, in advance, for the contributions you will make to this project. I will be forever grateful and so will the students and their families in Azerbaijan.