President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
March 27, 2015
Dear President Barack Obama,
My name is Nicolas Meringolo. I am an eighth grader currently attending Saint Hilary School in Tiburon, California.
I am the Editor-In-Chief of Pencils For Africa. Pencils For Africa is a nonprofit organization within our school where we work with people from around the globe (mostly in Africa) to create a global understanding among people. To do this, we have donated pencils, written letters with pen pals in Sierra Leone, helped to fund the building of an orphanage in Uganda, and donated bicycles to multiple people in Africa.
The goal of Pencils For Africa (PFA) is to change the narrative and perspective of Africa and to level the playing field between Africa and other countries.
We have also learned many life lessons at PFA. We have learned to listen to others and to be nonjudgmental to what others have to say. We have learned how to accept different cultures and ethnic backgrounds, and to cherish peoples’ differences. But by far, the most important lesson we have learned is the spirit of Ubuntu.
The important Ubuntu values and morals are the motivation of our PFA middle school team. We create an Ubuntu community with each other, as PFA members, and also create an Ubuntu with other organizations working for Africa. We have connected with these organizations and have donated money to their cause. We use this spirit of Ubuntu that we have learned to help us in our daily lives.
Another topic that we often talk about is the concept of the Kitchen Table. The concept is based on the fact that we should talk about the information that we gather at PFA during meals at the Kitchen Table, with our families and friends, so that we can inform more people about our work.
When the PFA team heard about your new initiative to promote a global community and to create a virtual exchange program, we instantly thought of our group. We are already doing what you have suggested, Mr. President.
Although we are a small group of middle school students, we have had the privilege of being mentored by remarkable role models on our advisory and executive boards.
These include human rights lawyers with the United Nations, working in Sudan and Rwanda, peace-builders rebuilding war-torn communities in the Congo, and social entrepreneurs who are building schools, orphanages and clinics. We also have interacted with traditional pastoral tribes like the Samburu and learned about the value of Truth and Reconciliation conducted by wise tribal elders, as well as methods of preserving endangered wildlife such as the African elephant.
The privilege of being mentored by these dedicated humanitarians working in Africa, clearly comes along with the duty that we are the future policymakers. This is a humbling and an inspiring duty for our PFA team. We take this responsibility seriously and with commitment.
We wanted to inform you of our group Mr. President, and we also wanted to tell you that your calling is at work in our school community.
We will continue to change the narrative of Africa and give the citizens a hand up, rather than a hand out. We believe that informing policymakers like yourself, will help to spread awareness of the problem of poverty, but will also help people to realize the rich and vibrant culture and wisdom of the African countries.
Thank you so much for your time in reading this letter and for running our country so beautifully.
Editor-In-Chief of Pencils For Africa