In the bag
How many kilos do you think the average pile of schoolbooks weighs? Maybe three kilos, without a computer.
Imagine a child you know walking to school carrying that weight every day, without a school bag. Not just from the bus or tram stop to school, but also from where they live, which could be anywhere up to 10 or 15 kilometers away.
How much energy would they have to expend before they even began the lessons of the day?
For many millions of African children lucky enough to go to school, that’s their daily reality.
One such school supplying the life changing possibilities that education affords to children from 23 neighboring villages, is Suubi Secondary College.
The school is in a small village called Lubanda, eight hours from Kampala, the capital of Uganda in East Africa.
It exists because of the extraordinary fundraising work of HUG (Help Us Grow), and it’s founders Helen Brown from Kyabram, Victoria and David Ssemwogerere in Uganda, as does the clinic and community centre in the village.
Together these facilities have completely changed the lives of this community.
Still, the school lacks a science block and a library and without these, the children will have to walk 30 miles to and from the nearest school, to take their school leaving exams. Every day. For two weeks. Carrying their books and without a water bottle to quench their thirst as they go.
They will likely have been studying by the dim light of candle or dangerous paraffin lamps way into the night before.
For our children here in Australia, this is an unimaginable scenario.
But they can make a difference
There are currently 150 children in the school, with 50 more students entering at the beginning of 2018.
HUG has a very firm policy that no one in the village gets anything for nothing. The children will need to achieve milestones within their first year of school, to be ‘awarded’ a bag, light and water bottle as part of an awards ceremony at the end of their first year.
The children already in the school, will similarly have to achieve those milestones to be awarded their bags.
Some of the young people from Suubi Secondary College have been sent to the second largest city in Uganda, Entebbe to learn how to make a school bag.
Like everything HUG does, this is on the basis that they return to Lubanda and teach these skills to other children.
Everything is set up for the children to learn how to make school bags and to be awarded a school bag at the end of 2018, but they lack the funds for the fabric and accessories.
How could the children of one school here in Australia become involved in solving this problem?
In the bag
All it would take is 200 children here in Australia to raise the funds for one bag each.
CreateCare Global, within its mandate to support suffering children worldwide has our schools’ program, CreateCare Kids.
Our aim is to provide Australian school children with the opportunity to use their creative problem solving skills to make a tangible difference in the lives of their disadvantaged peers.
In the Bag, is one such project.
As part of the project, children can experience a little of what their peers experience in Lubanda learning what it’s like to carry their books without a bag for just a day.
Then they’re be invited to work out how much fabric and accessories are needed for one bag, and how much that might cost if the material was purchased here in Australia.
Through collaborative brainstorming, the children will decide how they can best raise the money for one bag each. For example, it might be a sponsored Assault Course which they get through while carrying books.
Based on their experience, the children will be invited to submit a creative piece, a painting, illustration, short story or a video film to the In The Bag competition.
• the young sewers of Suubi Secondary College will increase their expertise sewing the bags while each making a small income for doing so
• the young students of Suubi Secondary College will be incentivized to complete their milestones in the first year of their secondary schooling to be awarded a bag and no longer need to carry their books
• the young fundraisers will find out how it feels to do something they know will make a tangible difference in the lives of another young person
• the children here will be made more aware of and feel greater empathy toward those who have so much less they they do
• the students of Suubi College will also be awarded together with their bag, an environmentally friendly water bottle, and a solar light
These are the small comforts many of our children take completely for granted, but for these children they will make a massive difference:
• being able to carry their books in a bag relieving them of pain
• studying at night lit by a safe light rather than the dangerous candles and paraffin lamps they use now
• having access to water as they walk
• meeting kids from somewhere else in the world.
The grassroots organisation involved, in this case HUG from Kyabram Australia, will get much needed publicity and attention which will support their next major fundraising initiative, funding a science block and library for the children.
The appropriate Ugandan based suppliers will benefit from continuing reasonable sales of fabric, accessories, solar lamps, water bottles and stationary.
Please follow the In the Bag journey on our Instagram and Facebook pages. #createcareglobal @createcareglobal
Or contact Sandy Mcdonald on 0408 935 905 to find out how your school can participate.
You can donate directly here.