Chilton to Baghdad via crayon
Drawings from kids head to kids in Iraqi orphanage
By Patricia Kasten
Compass Associate Editor
During the height of the Iraq war, did you wonder about the
children of Baghdad? In the midst of bombs and gunfire, did you
wish you could do something to make them feel safe and cared
Children at Chilton Catholic School did and they hope that
drawings of happy things will help, even now as that war winds
down. Hand-drawn pictures of rainbows, teeter-totters and
butterflies are on their way from Chilton to 26 children living in
a Baghdad orphanage. The drawings symbolize one basic wish for
those children: "Have a smile on your face," as second grader Tyler
The pictures, along with letters to troops serving in Iraq
written by the older students at Chilton, were the idea of peer
helpers at the Chilton school. Peer helpers are fifth and sixth
graders trained to assist fellow students during difficult
situations. With the help of Liz Roman, guidance counselor, the 10
decided younger students at the school could draw pictures, older
students could write letters, and the entire school could collect
Pennies for Peace to send to the Red Cross for humanitarian relief
"I did it as a guidance lesson," Roman said. "I told the
students, 'These kids have war around them and they're Catholic
like us. What do you think would make them happy?'"
"It makes me feel happy when I swing," said second grader Meghan
Breckheimer, who drew a picture of a playground.
"When I go to school, I'm happy," said Andrew Krause, displaying
his school spirit drawing.
"This is really kids connecting with kids," said Dr. Helen
Scieszka, pastoral associate for Chilton Area Catholic Ministry.
The entire project began when she read a news service article in
The Compass about the 26 mentally and physically disabled
children living in the Baghdad orphanage. It was founded by Mother
Teresa in 1991 and is staffed by her Missionaries of Charity.
"There must be a way to do something," Scieszka remembers
thinking. She also remembered how frightened local school children
were when a May 2000 hailstorm damaged much of Calumet County. "The
sound (of the hail) was scary," Scieszka said, "and these kids in
Baghdad are going through that type of fear hour after hour."
As the war intensified, she wanted the children to know that,
even as we pray for and support our troops, "we were not at war
with the Iraqi people" and that there are many ways to settle
differences and bring healing.
After checking with The Compass and determining that aid
is getting to the Mother Teresa Orphanage through the ecumenical
Voices in the Wilderness' Iraqi Peace Team, based in Jordan,
Scieszka and Roman sat down to brainstorm. The resulting drawings
were sent to Abp. Fernando Filoni, the papal nuncio of Baghdad.
Scieszka hopes the drawings get through, but, even if they
don't, she knows the Chilton children have already learned the best
lesson: "There are a lot of things they can do, even though they're
kids, that can help people halfway across the world."
Chilton's kids just hope their pictures give Baghdad orphans a
chance to smile, at least for a moment. That's why, as Zachary
Woelfel said, they didn't draw any war pictures to send because
"they would have gotten even sadder."