PACforKids mission is to enrich the lives of travelers to and children living in developing countries.

Shared Stories

We look forward to reading your stories and seeing your photos and publishing them here.

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Carolyn B.’s recollection (who traveled with the author to Hanoi):

“This story is about my experience traveling with MJ.  When we arrived in Hanoi, a huge suitcase, bigger than any I had ever seen, arrived with us.  When MJ opened it for the first time out popped a mountain of stuffed toys.  MJ had taken the beans (actually plastic pellets) out of the toys and replaced them with cotton batting so she could stuff more into this giant suitcase.  We still had no idea where these animals were headed.  She had contacted several agencies before we left, but none had gotten back to us with any positive info.  She brought the suitcase anyway.  After several days in Hanoi we finally heard back from a volunteer at the children’s oncology ward at a Hanoi Hospital.  We were to go that night to the hospital and someone would meet us to take us to the children.  So we canceled our plans for that evening and off we went to the hospital.  Thanks to the helpful hotel staff, we were equipped with a cell phone and were able to meet up with our guides.  They were two college students studying in Hanoi who volunteered at the hospital.  Thank goodness they spoke English because we did not know any Vietnamese.   With their help we could meet the children and see their families.  We dragged our huge supply of toys up the elevator to the ward.  Immediately we were besieged by smiling, very curious kids and their families.  We were given a tour of the ward where 70 kids were under the care of the nurses.  The rooms were crowded with several beds in each small room, however what made it even more crowded was that the parents stayed in the hospital with their child/patient.  Several children were in beds in the hallway, again with mom and dad on hand.  The playroom was ill-equipped and bathing facilities very poor.  Many of the children were bald from their treatments, but their smiles were as wide as their faces.  We sat with them and their families for a while and gave them all stickers.  One little boy put a sticker on his face and that started a trend. The children then had to have several stickers for their faces, their mothers’ faces, and beds.  Luckily we had an endless supply of stickers.  Meanwhile, MJ got out her hand puppet (a white bear) and a red, foam, clown nose and the laughter started.  It was so heartwarming to see these kids obviously hurting so badly, laughing joyously.  We left feeling that we had briefly touched the lives of a few souls who will hopefully remember two Americans with a smile.”

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Roseanne  F’s recollection:

When we were on a trip to Easter Island and Patagonia, our travel company, Overseas Adventure Tours, organized (as they always do in this company) a trip to a school that is in an impoverished area and partially supported by OAT funds.  Travelers are told of the school visit in advance so that if they wish, they can bring supplies, amusements, or materials for the teachers and children.

When we visited a school on Chiloe Island, Chile, we brought Velcro cut into frog shapes with accessories like clothing, hats, and even a crown. Conveniently, it was a special Velcro that doesn’t stick to anything other than itself.  The teachers were happy to have non-messy materials and the kids got a big kick out of the frogs.

Larry F’s recollection:

      When we stopped for a beverage in a tiny town in Ecuador we drank our soft drinks in the parking lot.  As we drank we talked in our broken Spanish with some 8-10 year-old boys in the parking lot in their broken English.  We had some small items with us that we decided we’d give these friendly young kids.  We offered them to the boys, and (we) put them in plastic bags.  As they left,  one boy proceeded to tie a knot in his plastic bag to keep the contents inside.  When we saw this, we motioned them back and (motioned) for a bag back.  Their faces fell as they thought they had lost their treasures.  But when we instead showed them how to use the sliding zipper closure and handed the bag back, they happily skipped home.

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Ellen I’s recollection:

I traveled to Kenya with a group that included several teachers.  Along with our tourist safari fun, we visited several schools.  Our first stop was Sweetwaters Secondary School.  It is a day school with 244 students in Kenya’s Laikipia district.  I remember giving the teachers some shoelaces that they would distribute to the children who had shoes (many did not).  Others in the group gave T-shirts, pens, and pencils.  Later, when the children gave us a tour of the school, they were so proud to tell us that they were lucky to go to school there and they liked learning new things.  At one point I was surrounded by children when one said to me, “Miss, can you sing for us your National Anthem?”  I was taken aback, and not sure of my singing skills, but proceeded to tell them the story behind the song as I sang.  They applauded and were happy.
(http://projectkenyasisterschools.com/2011/11/05/sweetwaters-secondary)


Another school we visited was in Kenya’s Samburu area.  We again passed out various supplies and the kids were excited even to get a pen or pencil.  They sang songs for us and we sang and performed “The Chicken Dance” for them.  They were delighted!  (http://samburuyouth.com/default.aspx).

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Betty M’s recollection:

Before our tour to Tanzania we learned from our travel company that we could take things like toys, toothbrushes, or toothpaste to give to children in a local school supported by the Grand Circle Foundation, parent company of Overseas Adventure Travel.  For those without space in their suitcases, there was a stop at a local shop selling items the children need like paper, pencils, pens.  At the school, with 381 boys and 372 girls taught by 19 teachers, we gave the supplies to the Headmaster.  The school serves kindergarten ages 5 and 6, primary students to age 14, and a secondary school.  Several buildings served as classrooms with separate buildings for toilets. There was a large cistern to catch rain water. We visited on a Saturday and we met students working in the gardens and grounds, attractive with vegetables and fruit trees all tended by the children.  If they have more than they can use in the school’s big kitchen, the produce is sold in the local market with profits going to the school.

On a recent trip to Vietnam we visited an orphanage partly support by Grand Circle Foundation, parent company of Overseas Adventure Travel.  We toured the children’s rooms, some with bunk beds lined-up dormitory style. Older boys slept on large wooden boxes with storage space underneath.  Preschoolers were lined up on their metal beds for us to see, while the babies swung in metal cradles. All beds were supplied with a straw mat, a blanket, and a hard pillow.  We visited the music room, saw their potted garden and a courtyard where 2 men in our group played soccer with some young boys while women snuggled the babies.  In the large dining room, children were quietly sitting at long tables politely waiting as a volunteer served them their plates of food.  Members of our group donated toys, toothbrushes and toothpaste, story books, and other items.

One member of our group had a large monkey puppet and the orphans clustered around her laughing and enjoying the puppet.

Grove D. entertains children (left to right) in Lao PDR and Peru with her monkey puppet.

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Shari C.’s recollection:
In 2010 I traveled to Jamaica to stay in an eco-cabin in Muirton Pen, Portland Parish, in the east of Jamaica. Before my trip I contacted the owner of the cabin to ask what I could do for or bring to the children in the village. He suggested books for the local school. So I collected many children’s books (mostly books my children had outgrown) and a few puzzles and took them to the small, local school. I also filled a backpack with small containers of bubbles (bought at the Dollar Store) and handed them out to children I met on the street.  It was such a simple toy/gift…but something they had never seen! As there is no recycling in Jamaica I made sure to encourage the children to be sure the containers made it to a garbage can and I also explained to them how with dish soap they could refill and reuse the containers by making their own bubbles.
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Susan and Jim W.’s recollections:
We had no problems at customs in Nairobi, Kenya, and we were able to pay taxi fare for one of the workers to come to the airport to pick up our gifts for The Nest. Although we were really looking forward to a visit there it had to be canceled, but Mrs. O.M. was kind enough to take several pictures and email them to us, really warming our hearts.  Thanks to inspiration from you, Craft Hope (pillowcase dress idea) and Dolly donations we believe we made some smiles!
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Thank-you from Stephanie H. Toronto, Canada.  “I want to thank you for your website.  I read about your work in the National Geographic Traveler magazine, Dec. 2012-Jan. 2013 issue. I am heading to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand for 6 weeks and I’ve always thought about taking things from Canada but never knew what or how to go about it.  I have contacted our hotels in Hanoi and Phnom Penh and they are going to arrange for us to visit with kids either in a hospital or in orphanages. Thank you for inspiring me to make the first step.”
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Email from Pat A., retired elementary school principal, San Francisco, Calif.  “As a person who has worked in many schools with poor children, I know first-hand how important the smallest gift can mean to a child who has nothing.  I can imagine how much pleasure you derive from a smile from a thankful child.  I will spread the word about your website to our retired administrators who travel a lot and love to help people.  Your website will give them tips for their travel.”

 

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