Archive for March, 2009

Our seder begins with children being encouraged to ask questions and reflect on various aspects of Passover. We then spend hours explaining to the children “why this night is different from all other nights.” Additionally, we read about the four children who have different ways of engaging with the tradition. We often explain these four children as encompassing aspects of all children. For each child, even the one who doesn’t know how to ask, we have a specific, personalized answer. And yet, I think that there is another child: the one who does not have the opportunity to ask. Last year while living and working in East Africa, Adam and I encountered too many children who are never given the opportunity to ask questions. And, even if they were given an opportunity, they don’t have the resources or tools to find answers. In fact, according to the United Nations Development Program Human Development Report 2007/2008, the literacy rate in Uganda is 66.8 percent. Unfortunately, those who are lucky enough to learn to read lack access to educational materials.

As we think about the different types of questions that have become a central part of our Passover tradition, I encourage us to think about children all over the world who never have the opportunity to ask questions and who have no tools to search for answers. Over this past year, many of you helped to change this reality by supporting the establishment of a community library in Uganda. The library building is now complete!! With your help, hundreds of children and adults will have access to materials that will empower them to ask questions. As they use the books to explore the world around them, they will learn to formulate questions and research answers that will hopefully lead to even more questions. Even before we finished purchasing furniture, the facility was used to host two programs: a training for 126 community members on HIV/AIDS and Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of the virus and a five day peer-educator training seminar on adolescent reproductive health. By the end of April, the building will be filled with the voices of children, teachers, and community members asking questions and searching for answers. As we sit at our seders celebrating our freedom to ask questions, let’s commit to continuing the work of bringing this freedom and privilege to those who have yet to be given or are just beginning to have the opportunity to ask.

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