As Armin Mohammadi was leaving Honduras, the kids he had given lessons to in English and science presented him with a drawing that depicted them playing soccer together. Armin still has the picture hanging up in his Richmond Hill home.
Those kids would inspire his non-profit organization, A Pencil for a Student, A Future for a Nation.
The six- to 10-year-olds he encountered were keen to learn, he says, but they didn’t have access to the same resources that he did back in Canada.
For Armin, seeing how their potential was limited by not having access to the tools we often take for granted motivated him to act.
“We have all these different facilities, and everything’s provided for us, and it’s just a matter of wanting to do something,” he says.
Armin isn’t much older than the kids he’s trying to help. The 16-year-old high school student was recently recognized for his work with a medal for good citizenship from the government of Ontario.
“I thought it was a great honour,” he says of the acknowledgement.
A Pencil for a Student, A Future for a Nation collects tools and raises funds to put together packages containing items such as pencils, books, crayons and calculators.
To date, the non-profit has sent 1,500 educational kits to the developing country. He says that, although his organization may not be big, he’s happy to have raised awareness and to have moved others to go on volunteer trips.
“I think that we’ve reached out to a lot of these underprivileged students in Honduras,” he says.
Armin says he became interested in planning a trip to South America after hearing of his brother’s travels in Guatemala.
Last summer, Armin and his friends made plans to go to Honduras. Over the course of their two-week stay, they also pitched in on a school-building project and visited with patients at a local hospital.
Armin says he and his friends wanted to do something positive while they were there, so they simply contacted people in advance of their trip and volunteered their time.
“Any time that I’ve ever needed help in my life, people have always reached out and helped me,” he says. “So it’s just the best way for me to give back to my community.”
Armin has given back to his home community, as well, volunteering his time at Sunnybrook Hospital and, more recently, York Central Hospital in Richmond Hill.
Armin plans to expand his organization and hopes to send other students on volunteer trips. He would like to go to different developing nations every year. But in the coming year, he would like to return to Honduras, to see what impact the kits have made.