Peconic Community School lower primary student Sawyer Harbin shows the Zimbabwe schoolchildren the doll he bought during a live video conference Friday morning as Tinashe Basa, a nonprofit director, watches on. (Credit: Paul Squire)
“What do you do for fun?” the girl in Aquebogue asked.
“Do you have pets?” the boy in Zimbabwe asked.
“How big is your school?”
“Do you have a garden?”
These questions and more were answered Friday morning when a group of roughly 30 students at the Peconic Community School in Aquebogue met a group of Zimbabwe orphans through a live online video.
The meetup, coordinated by the nonprofit group ZimKids Orphan Trust, was the first time any of the students in Aquebogue had met kids from Africa, as well as the first time the Zimbabwe students had met someone outside their community. The school also hosted Dennis Gaboury, who founded the nonprofit, and its director — Tinashe Basa.
Mr. Gaboury said the video chat would help the young students here on the North Fork learn more about other cultures.
Mr. Basa, who joined the nonprofit group as a teenager, said he was excited to take part in the “culture [ex]change.”
Some of the students bought homemade dolls from Zimbabwe (those proceeds will go to the nonprofit) and played games with Mr. Basa, who told them about what life was like where he grew up.
ZimKids helps orphaned and abandoned children in Zimbabwe by providing schooling and vocational training. Mr. Basa himself was mistreated as a child, and nearly poisoned by some of his relatives who didn’t want to care for him.
“That whole time, it was a life lesson to know that there are kids out there going through the same thing,” he said. “I want to help them.”