Munhu Launches a Pen Pal Program Between Village Students in Zimbabwe and Ventura County Students in California
Munhu’s Pen Pal Program is a forum for cultural exchange between students in rural areas in Zimbabwe and students in US. Through letters, the students share their story lives, their hobbies, and their dreams for the future. Students in the US learn about life in the rural areas and students in the villages learn about life in the city. Despite the differences in these children’s lives, some discover they share similar interests; this may be in their hobbies, favourite subjects, or professional aspirations. Some even start making plans to visit each other.
A young boy living in a remote village in rural Zimbabwe contemplates his life. He comes from a poor family. Each day he watches his parents struggle to feed the many hungry mouths in the household. He is grateful for the days when the family has enough to eat, but he also knows there are days when there is no food. He has learnt to accept the hard life, knowing that better days will come. He does not lose hope. What he cherishes most is getting up very early each morning and walking for miles to attend a local school. He enjoys school, especially learning about distant places like the United States of America. He wonders what its like and wants to learn more about life in America.
This is exactly what some students in rural schools in Zimbabwe are doing now, learning about life in America. This is all thanks to the Munhu Pen Pal program! Through this program, some students in rural Zimbabwe exchange letters with students in Ventura County schools near Los Angeles. Zimbabwean students share their family stories and experiences growing up facing adversities; but they also share their hopes and dreams for a brighter future. They express their gratitude for an opportunity to receive an education, which as they see it, is their only means for attaining their dreams. Some students reveal aspirations to become teachers so they can help educate others, some want to become nurses so they can take care of sick people they see around them, and some want to start their own businesses. Others talk of becoming doctors, lawyers, and pilots. Despite the hardships they face now, the overarching message in their letters is of hope and a better future.
In their responses, Ventura County students are excited to learn about life in Zimbabwe from their newly found pen pals. They ask questions about life in the village. They want to know how village students spent their time; they want to know the type of sports and games that children play in Zimbabwe. Some express an interest in visiting Africa and meeting their pen pals and learning more about the culture. They also write about their families, pets, favorite colors, and hobbies. They describe their schools, what they learn, and their favorite subjects. The students also share their dreams for the future. Some express hopes for becoming teachers, doctors, football or basketball players, video game designers and so on. Others, even at this early age, write about their aspirations to give money to charities that provide food, water, and clothes to the poor. There are others who just draw pictures; after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
In reading these pen pal exchanges, one notices the common threads in the children’s lives, despite their diverse backgrounds. Some may have the same hobbies—perhaps soccer; some may have the same favorite subjects—perhaps science or art; and some may have the same profession in mind—perhaps becoming doctors. Whether from Zimbabwe or America, these are children with similar hopes and dreams of growing up and becoming productive members of society. The pen pal program is a forum for these children to learn about the other side of the world and to encourage, uplift, and inspire each other. It is an opportunity to start building bridges at an early age.