Thursday, September 26, 2013

Postage Stamp Stories: a series

Postage stamps tell us stories.  Sometimes these stories are told through symbols of the nation.  Sometimes these stories are captured in photographs.  Sometimes the stories of the stamps coincide with the content of the mail.  

As I live in the Netherlands, I find stories in the postage stamps.  My husband collected stamps when he was younger, and those have unique stories as well.  The focus of this series will be on learning Dutch culture and history through postage stamps.

KINDERPOSTZEGELS - Children's Postage Stamps

Today while "attending" my graduate-level class via video-conferencing, the doorbell rang.  I could not hide from the kids I knew were outside the door, since they would see me sitting at the front table.  I went to the door and was greeted by 3 girls who are in "groep 7," or what I think is the equivalent to 5th grade.  Chattering in Dutch, they asked if I wanted to buy postage stamps, bandaids, or greeting cards, and I recognized this as a school fundraiser.  When I was in elementary school, we sold wrapping paper and other types of things to raise money for the school.  Later my husband said he had done similar fundraisers when he was younger, going door-to-door to sell postage stamps to raise money.

Given that I was in the middle of a class and couldn't talk long, I asked the girls to come back in an hour, around 6pm, when I knew I would be on break.  They took note of the house number, then asked which street it was.  Tomorrow was the last day, they said, and of course they wanted to finish today.

Fast-forward one hour.  The doorbell rang and off I trotted with my wallet. My husband remained at the kitchen table while I had my Dutch "immersion" experience with these girls who asked me to fill out a form.  Turns out I needed to give them our bank transfer number, since they were not to take cash (as it said on the form), so then I needed to get the number from my husband.  Hope the bank won't deny the transaction, as my name is not yet on the account!

During the whole process, one of their phones rang (yes, one of them had a phone with her!), and she responded with, "I'm with a customer!"  Made me laugh (on the inside).  I decided to purchase postage stamps, since we could always use those, and the stamps would certainly tell a story.

Photo from Kinderpostzegels 2013: let children learn for a better future!
American school fundraisers, with the exception of American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart, usually benefit the school itself, and not various charities/organizations.  From what I can gather, this fundraiser is done each year, with children going door to door to sell the projects.  In years past, they accepted cash, but no longer. Here is the story I found online:
This year’s Children’s Welfare Stamps were photographed and designed by Anton Corbijn. Earlier this year, on behalf of PostNL and the Foundation for Children’s Welfare Stamps Netherlands, Corbijn visited an educational project in Ethiopia to take photographs for the new series of Children’s Welfare Stamps. The stamps highlight the contrast between children who attend school and children who have to work. Three children play a leading role on the stamp sheetlet, whereby each of the three is photographed both at school and at work.
Primary school children in years 7 and 8 will hit the streets to sell the Children’s Welfare Stamps from Wednesday 25 September 2013. The proceeds from the Children’s Welfare Stamps will be used to help vulnerable children in the Netherlands and abroad. PostNL has issued Children’s Welfare Stamps to raise money for child welfare projects since 1924. The surcharge is €0.30 per stamp. (1)
 Clicking on this link will allow you to see the other products for sale (in Dutch). 

For more information, visit the English language site Kinderpostzegels: for Children, by children.

(1) Source: http://www.postnl.com/sustainability/news/index.aspx (English language)