In 1997, when Caitlin Alfirenka, then Caitlin Stoicksitz, was in middle school, her class picked countries in which to have pen pals. She chose Zimbabwe, and thus met Martin Ganda, a boy her age. They began exchanging letters, and Caitlin quickly realized how different their lives were.
She began sending Martin money with the letters, which he then used to buy a chicken for his family’s dinner, and eventually to pay his way through school. In Zimbabwe, school is not required, and you can only go if you can afford it.
Then Caitlin’s parents got involved and were able to send Martin and his family more money after his father lost his job.
Caitlin and Martin grew close through their letters, and thought of each other like brother and sister. In the end, both the Stoicksitz and Ganda families’ lives were changed forever with that first letter.