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April 22, 2018

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Spreading the word to South America

Four Vancouver girls record books on tape for blind children in Guyana

VANCOUVER (CP) - Four young girls have learned they're not too small to make a big difference - even thousands of kilometres away from home.

Stella Wong and classmate Madeleine Pollard Hyde, both 12, along with Maciel Pereda and Anna Robinson, 13, are recording books on tape for blind children in Guyana.

They began the project last year when they were in the same split Grade 6 and 7 class.

Their teacher suggested recording the books to give to a nurse who works with blind children in the South American countly.

Madeleine, Stella, Maciel and Anna call their group - Girls Go Guyana! Their work is part of the International Youth Millennium Project that involves 6,000 children in 62 countries.

So far, Girls Go Guyana! has sent two books-on-tape from the classic Narnia Chronicles series to the English-speaking country.

Although they're in different classes this year, and Maciel and Anna have started high school, the girls continue to record books.

Most kids feel powerless until they get involved

While it takes a long time, the girls say giving blind children the gift of literature is extremely rewarding.

"They can't afford braille books and they don't know how to read braille (anyway), so it makes me feel really good," says Anna.

She says this project has made her realize that she has the power to help people and make a difference in the world.

'We're children now but in the future we'll be the adults making the decisions so I feel it's good to get involved now."

The Youth Millennium Project ( was started last January by two Vancouver women who wanted to get young people involved in local and global issues.

Rebecca Slate, a teacher who co-founded the project that partners with UNICEF, says most kids she's talked to are keenly aware of issues such as violence, illiteracy and hunger around the world.

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But they feel powerless to do anything because of their age. That is, until they get involved and learn they can make changes, Slate says.

The project has been an overwhelming success in rural villages and urban centres, she says.

For example, children in Germany are raising funds for people in Mozambique, while others are involved in their own countries' needs.

In Tanzania, children are planting trees and assisting the elderly; in Sierra Leone, they're educating people on the peace agreement after nine years of civil war; and in Vietnam, they are raising chicks to sell the eggs for money for school supplies, Slate says.

The Girls Go Guyana! students say they didn't realize what a gift they had in their voices.

They didn't realize what a gift they had in their voices

"Just the fact that they could be listening to your voice right now makes you feel really good," says Madeleine.

The girls have pictures of the children and have learned that many of them are orphans, having been abandoned by their families who were unable to pay costly hospital bills. Most of the children are visually impaired because of a vitamin deficiency.

This project has spurred the girls to get involved in other humanitarian projects. They have cleaned up graffiti in their community and are speaking to local groups about their projects.

For example, Madeleine and Stella spoke to the intermediate grades at their school about the work of the Youth Millennium Project and how to get involved.

And Madeleine recently spoke to a group of intellectuals from around the world at the Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues at the University of British Columbia.

"You don't have to be 60 years old to actually to do your part," she says.

In Association with


Spreading the word in South America

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Last Updated on : Saturday, May 29, 2010
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