I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has been collecting second-hand children's shoes, clothes and bedding - your help is appreciated more than you know and I can't wait to see the children's faces. These simple things that we take for granted will mean so much to the kids at Kyabirwa School. For those of you who dared to look at the link to a photograph of the effect of "jiggers", I hope you will now understand why shoes are in such desperate demand.
Also, I have had a few emails from people who are busy trying to collect school supplies such as blu tac, pencils, chalk, board dusters, crayons etc. Again, all of these things will such a huge impact on the school so please keep spreading the word - just over two weeks to go! The school can rarely afford such things without outside support and when they run out, lessons obviously become very hard to organise. In the youngest class, there are sometimes up to 130 students! Imagine trying to teach such young students without so much as a piece of chalk. And how can the teacher effectively monitor what the children are learning if the children themselves don't have access to pencils to record what they have understood and then have it marked? And more heartwrenching as a teacher is probably the fact that you know many of the children might not have eaten anything other than a small breakfast and/or evening meal each day for the past week. The school tries to provide lunch for each child, but this is not always a reality. How does a 6 year old concentrate in a class of 130 students on an empty stomach? It doesn't bear thinking about. So thank you SO much to everyone sending me school supplies. The children at the school do follow a ciriculum and also have to sit exams, same as our own children. There are teenagers at the school who are yet to finish their primary school education, yet they still persevere. Let's help them on their way!
Lastly, I have had emails from generous female friends offering to buy sanitary towels to take to the girls and female staff at the school. In case you have not yet had a chance to look at the link or browse the school's website completely, I can tell you that female sanitation during their "time of the month" is less than adequate. I was informed today by a previous volunteer that the school has just two weeks worth of sanitary towels left. Once those are gone, then it is back to using whatever they can find to keep themselves clean. Girls (and I assume female staff) have to miss school during this time and, by using whatever is available, they often end up with painful and serious infections. We take all of this for granted but just hearing what these girls go through makes me shudder. Here we have choice of brands, quality and even sizes so that we can be sure we are buying the right product for ourselves and keep clean and comfortable. Do you think you could go without sanitary towels or tampons? Didn't think so. So again, I am forever grateful to my wonderful friends for hearing my call and answering. It doesn't seem like a big deal to us, but to them it will make a huge difference.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!