A wisdom exchange in 2018 helped American children showed gratitude for gardeners who had come from diverse countries to tend the gardens in Haifa, Israel. The children wanted them to feel comforted during their first trip away from home. The gardeners sent greetings and stories of their journeys and their humble work for the students and received comfort pillowcases in return.
The pillowcase project had become a trademark for these Tarzana Elementary Habits-of-Heart club students beginning in2013, the year before the West African Ebola outbreak.Spiraling numbers of flu patients had lost their lives that year in their own city, inspiring the class to use their writing and art skills to conduct an influenza awareness program emphasizing hand washing. For their wisdom exchange, they made health-reminder flags from pillowcases and sent them to Liberia with board member Fariba Mahjour, who requested a wisdom exchange to learn what the Liberian students were doing to prevent illness in their community. Two months later, Ebola erupted in Liberia. As a result of their learning, the ten schools in Liberia who received pillowcases initiated a widespread handwashing campaign among 31 schools. Teachers and parents reported that lives at 31 schools were saved because of the handwashing campaign.
The pillowcase project lived on. The Tarzana school students decorated more cases with words of comfort in 2019 and sent them abroad with travelers, to distribute comfort or gratitude to those far away from home, to offer a sense of home. Other pillowcases were sent as gifts of comfort for refugee children living in temporary housing in Mexico in 2019. (See Mexico.)