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The Ouko Community Initiative: How do we help our students empathize with students across the globe?

by Glenda Speyer

Teaching our children about a school in Africa where students are crammed into classrooms, have a hugely demanding pupil-student ratio, and have limited teaching resources is a challenge. How do we help our students who learn in such privileged and pristine conditions manage to visualize, empathize and imagine such conditions? It is not easy…

Perhaps the very best way is to help them to first think of what we have, the ease with which we get it and the norm that it is. Next, we show photos …as they say “a picture is worth a thousand words!”

Then, we speak of the right to education:

Are we teaching the students? Are we reaching them? Yes, they are beginning to grasp the ideas.

We also help them think about the choices that people make.

The Gordon family and the Ouko family made decisions…decisions to place their resources, to express their generosity and appreciation and help fund a school and bring resources. This is the Ouko Community Initiative.

The students learn…

One Blog Post, Two Second Graders, Three Organizations

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This week our class has two bloggers, Naomi and Michael. In their own words, these two students answered the following questions:
It is the Hebrew month of Adar, so we are focusing on Purim and Tamchui. What are our organizations, and what have you learned about them?Naomi: Our organizations are JFS, Ouko, and Prakash. We learned about Prakash today. It is an organization that helps people in India who are blind. Mrs. Sisenwine told us about the group and we read a book called Jacob's Eye Patch. It's a kid's book that is based on a true story.
Michael: Ouko is an organization in Africa that supports a poor school in Africa. The students don't have any extra supplies. Most people in that school cannot afford lunches.
Naomi: There are 60 students in each class, with only one teacher. There are 600 students altogether.
Michael: They also don't have good textbooks.  A Rashi 6th Grader, Zachary G. and his family went to visit and brought fresh school supplies and clothes an…

Fourth Graders' Thoughts on Three Organizations

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After the fourth grade learned about Project Prakash, Ouko Community Initiatives, and JFS (Metrowest), we asked the students to imagine they were trying to persuade younger Rashi students to donate to one of those three charities.  Here are some of their thoughts:

Project Prakash:

If I was blind, my parents or I would pay for getting treatments. I hope that these kids get better quickly and will be able to see like we can. 
- Mia B.



Project Prakash does not just help kids with their blindness, it also helps those kids get into a school or get clothes or basic things like that.  - Raquel F.




I plan to give a lot of my chips to Project Prakash! They help people in India who are blind. India has the largest blind population on the Earth: 7.8 million people. - Ben M.

These children need a chance to see like other people, but might not be able to because their family doesn't have enough money. All the organizations are great but I really think that this would really help people who need help i…

Four Stories To Teach About Krembo Wings

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Krembo Wings, one of The Rashi School's honored organizations for the 2017 Rashi Purim Tamchui Project, provides social spaces for mentally and/or physically disabled teens and their able-bodied allies in Israel. Read these four stories with your children to better understand how Krembo Wings works to better the lives of children in Israel.

Another Language by Jeanne Braham Through profiles that celebrate the healing bonds between service dogs and their people, these oral histories backed by the power of photographs bring to life the stories of sixteen people who have worked with NEADS. Through these stories told in their own words, you’ll meet an Iraq war veteran, people who use wheelchairs or who have balance problems due to debilitating disease, trainers who raise service puppies and others who work with NEADS’ human clients, and more.

The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco When young Trisha finds out her class at the new school is known as "The Junkyard," she is dev…

Four Great Books To Help Learn About Keshet

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The Rashi School is partnering with Keshet during the 2017 Rashi Purim Tamchui Project to ensure full inclusion of LGBTQ people in Jewish life. Read these stories with your children to understand the impact this organization has on Jewish children and families across the country.

Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as "red" suffers an identity crisis in this picture book by the New York Times–bestselling creator of My Heart Is Like a Zoo and It's an Orange Aardvark! Funny, insightful, and colorful, Red: A Crayon's Story, by Michael Hall, is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way.

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam Schiffer Stella's class is having a Mother's Day celebration, but what's a girl with two daddies to do? It's not that she doesn't have someone who helps her with her homework, or tucks her in at night. Stella has her Papa and Daddy who…

Six Stories For Teaching Your Child About the Ouko Community Initiative

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The Rashi School is partnering with OCI: Ouko Community Initiatives during the 2017 Rashi Purim Tamchui Project to support the students of the Manera School in Korou, Kenya. Read these six stories with your child to better understand the work that OCI does.
Maddi's Fridge by Lois BrandtWith humor and warmth, this children's picture book raises awareness about poverty and hungerBest friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, and play in the same park, but while Sofia's fridge at home is full of nutritious food, the fridge at Maddi's house is empty. Sofia learns that Maddi's family doesn't have enough money to fill their fridge and promises Maddi she'll keep this discovery a secret. But because Sofia wants to help her friend, she's faced with a difficult decision: to keep her promise or tell her parents about Maddi's empty fridge. Filled with colorful artwork, this storybook addresses issues of poverty with honesty a…

Eighteen Great Stories to Help Your Child Empathize with Immigrants

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The Rashi School is working with JFS Metro West during the Rashi Purim Tamchui Project to support relocating Syrian Refugees and other Immigrants to Massachusetts. Read these books with your children to help them empathize with children who are refugees or immigrants.

Reducing Achievement GapsThose Shoes by Maribeth BoeltsSchool is a tough place to be if you don't have the latest footwear. Jeremy can't afford those shoes and the other kids make fun of him. His only hope is maybe, just maybe, the too-small pair he found in the charity shop might miraculously stretch to fit.
Maddi's Fridge by Lois BrandtWith humor and warmth, this children's picture book raises awareness about poverty and hungerBest friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, and play in the same park, but while Sofia's fridge at home is full of nutritious food, the fridge at Maddi's house is empty. Sofia learns that Maddi's family doesn't have enough money…