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Pens For Peace

To The Editor:

My son, First Lieutenant Matthew Zeller, is serving with the Army 1st Infantry Division in Afghanistan. He has been sending extensive emails about his experiences there. Would you help me in this quest which I have dubbed “Pens for Peace?”  Thank you from a proud (but worried) mother.

Elizabeth Blades Skinner,

Allenspark, Colorado

From Elizabeth’s son Matt:

I’m fine, healthy, extremely satisfied, quite excited, and in great spirits. For those of you looking to send care packages, I don’t really need anything at the moment…nor do my men. If you are so inclined, however, the Afghans (especially the kids) could use all the pens, old clothing, and shoes you can spare. Children’s toys, soccer balls, volleyballs (they are crazy for it here), are also quite welcome.

Pens are key. Afghanistan provides all of its children with free primary education. They do not, however, provide them with writing implements. If a child’s family does not own a writing implement, their parents will not send them to school – to do so would be a major dishonor against the family. The children end up farming and herding animals rather than receiving an education.

The primary recruits to the Taliban are the uneducated in search of an income or children who were sent to Madrasa. Madrasas are religious schools for boys in which the primary instruction is basically memorization of the Koran. They are usually funded by the Wahhabi school of Islam that predominates in Saudi Arabia- and is best known for the brand of Islam adhered to by Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Parents often send children to Madrasa because they either cannot afford to keep them in their household – Madrasas feed children, and sometimes the parents simply cannot feed all their offspring. Parents also send children to Madrasa because it guarantees some form of education-Madrasas provide their students with writing implements.

Thus, PENS are essential to winning this war. Pens keep kids in government run schools, which in turn increase the number of educated people in this country, improve the economy, and most importantly, decrease the Taliban’s recruiting pool. Please send pens. If I were running for President a guiding theme of my foreign policy towards Islamic fundamentalism would be the following: We can only win this war by preventing today’s children from becoming tomorrow’s terrorists. Many of you have asked how you can help me during this deployment. My answer is: help me help give these kids a better life. Send pens. Send clothing. Send shoes.

Please send to Matthew’s mom, Betsy Skinner at P.O. Box 172, Allenspark, CO 80510. You may also send a donation, to help Betsy cover postage for the packages, or for more information, please give Betsy a call at 303-747-1013.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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