Announcing – Pen Pals Across the World


CONTACT: Cathy Leiber

Judith’s Reading Room Announces a Global Collaboration

“Pen Pals Across the World”

Africa’s Ivory Coast and New York’s E. Harlem Students Share Life Stories

February 10, 2023 — Judith’s Reading Room applauded today a global collaboration between two of its “Freedom Through Literacy” Award winners: Mr. Toti Jean Marc Yale, founder and CEO of the NGO Education and English For You, based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and Ms. Daliz Vasquez, Principal, Mosaic Preparatory Academy, East Harlem, New York who agreed to name each other’s schools as “Pen Pals.”

“Pen Pals Across the World,” was an idea spawned by Judith’s Reading Room and Mr. Yale, whose work with impoverished primary school children in the French-speaking African nation inspired the organization to honor him with a 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Award Honorable Mention.  The organization subsequently made a donation of $600 to purchase English language books for the students.

Ms. Vasquez, her Vice Principal Ms. Wilson and numerous Mosaic Preparatory Academy teachers in East Harlem, NY, for their part, enthusiastically agreed to reciprocate by inviting their eager scholars to write letters to their new friends in this west African nation.  In 2021 and 2022 Mosaic’s former principal, Dr. Lisette Caesar won a Freedom through Literacy Award Honorable Mention and Board Option Prize, respectively.

“We estimate that initially 60 children from each location will participate in the Pen Pal project,” said Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.”  She added, “Our aim is to figuratively shrink the 4,933 miles in distance between Abidjan and East Harlem by illustrating that families, friendships, concerns, fears and hopes are universal.”

To kick start the program and to assist the students in English, Judith’s Reading Room has provided funding for Mr. Yale to purchase 60 English dictionaries for each student participating in “Pen Pals Across the World.”

Mr. Yale wrote,

“I have the honor and immense pleasure on behalf of our community students and all the volunteers of the NGO Education and English for You to say to you from the bottom of my heart a big Thank You. For this program, we have worked in the past with students from the following countries: U.S, Canada, Mexico, Ukraine and Spain and we have never received support like Yours.  Thank you so much Judith’s Reading Room for all the Happiness you offer to the children of the world. I’m a living witness.” 

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Honorable Mentions-2022 Freedom Through Literacy

Finally, Honorable Mention Awards (no cash award) are given to those applicants who the judges want to acknowledge and think deserve encouragement.  The idea behind the Honorable Mention Awards is to propel the applicants to continue their literacy efforts and to apply for future Freedom Through Literacy Awards.

Toti Jean Marc Yale – “Reading First”

For Yale’s outreach to help eradicate illiteracy in his West African nation, we wish to give him global recognition and encouragement through an Honorable Mention.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Lacking basic reading and writing skills is a tremendous disadvantage. Literacy not only enriches an individual’s life, but it creates opportunities for people to develop skills that will help them provide for themselves and their family. Thank you very much, Judith’s Reading Room, for the good job you are doing across the world that is transforming the life of many kids through their reading skill development.”
– Toti Jean Marc Yale

Children’s Home of Easton – “Book Club for At-Risk Youth”

We honor Marlene Arnholt with an Honorable Mention for maintaining Children’s Home of Easton’s selection of over 4,000 books and a monthly Book Club that help make a “home” for traumatized youth.
“Providing a love match between readers and books has been my preoccupation and passion since my involvement with the residents at The Children’s Home of Easton began many years ago. Our basic premise is simple: make books of different genres, subjects and popularity easily accessible to every resident and make certain they know there are many more books than are actually displayed. Then, find a way to build on those interests through introductions to like-minded readers. At that point … the sky is truly the limit!”          …Marlene Arnholt
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