SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 19: The most prolific 10 days at School in a Bag to date!

This month’s Blog in a Bag had to focus on the incredibly exciting and fulfilling week we had last week! We hit major milestones, broke previous records and are now reaping the rewards by receiving incredible photos and feedback of the children who have been the latest recipients of a SchoolBag. Continue reading to find out just what we’ve been up to…

Sometimes, SchoolBag distributions are a bit like buses, you wait for weeks and then two come along at once. Well, if this statement rings true, in the last 10 days we have had a convoy of buses head our way with consignments totaling 1,657 SchoolBags handed out in six countries – Nepal (133), Ghana (528), Syria (480), Fiji (100), Romania (516) and Haiti (10)! In addition to this, we also sent 200 SchoolBags on their way to The Gambia (along with additional stationery resources and uniforms) and a further 720 SchoolBags off to be airfreighted to Haiti this week for victims of Hurricane Matthew.

I must say that it has not been a typical week at School in a Bag HQ, but it has been so exciting changing the SchoolBag total each day when news and confirmation of each distribution came in. During this period we got in to our 34th country (Haiti) and surpassed the 70,000 SchoolBag milestone with our current total standing at 71,578 :)

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The 133 SchoolBags distributed in Nepal through our partners Helambu Education Livelihood Partnership (HELP) formed part of the charitable element by the participants taking part in the Adventure Aid trip to Nepal lead by Ashely Platten-Mills. Participants on the Adventure Aid trips have to raise a target amount of money and a proportion of this is used to support a charitable project during their trip. School in a Bag introduced Adventure Aid to HELP last year and this is the first trip that Ashley has lead in Nepal. Big thanks must also go to Bartley Junior School for their additional £1,000 contribution towards funding the SchoolBags.

 

During their time up in Helambu, the Adventure Aid participants visited the village of Tartong and spent time painting the newly constructed school called Shree Deurali funded by School in a Bag and the Inner Wheel Association.

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The Adventure Aid team looking splendid in their painting gear! Jimmy from HELP on the far right dressed up for the occasion too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The 480 SchoolBags made up the second consignment that we have sent to Syria through our partners Hand in Hand for Syria and these actually left the UK back in April. Operating right on the front line in Aleppo in dangerous and volatile conditions the Hand in Hand for Syria team on the ground have often been involved in political negotiation to get aid in to the city.

“Alaa is currently in Syria trying to organize an emergency response to families displaced from Damascus countryside into the Idlib area as part of a TRUCE and I am currently involved with sorting aid into the city of Aleppo as part of another ceasefire which we are hoping it will take place in few days time to allow humanitarian aid into the city. This is coming at difficult times when Russian jet fighters are patrolling the skies targeting civilians and not sparing school children returning back to their homes.”

Fadi Al-Dhairi – Founder of Hand in Hand For Syria

We are so grateful to the field team involved who managed to successfully distribute the SchoolBags to children at the Barisha School and Dar Hassan Orphanage.

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The children receiving their SchoolBags in Syria 

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In 2015, School in a Bag supplied 100 UK packed SchoolBags to the Dorset charity Children of Fiji run by Peter and Margaret Long. Peter and Margaret make trips to Fiji each year to coincide with their aid arriving and they spend the next two months distributing it to the children. On this occasion, the customs officials questioned why they were importing stationery in to the country when they could buy it readily in Fiji. So, for the 2016 Phase II consignment, SIAB provided the empty numbered SchoolBag rucksacks and the additional funds for Peter and Margaret to buy the contents ‘In Country’ as per the dual method we have run in Madagascar.

“The SchoolBags were destined for Burenitu Village School in the Serua area of the main island. On the day of our visit to Burenitu, the 100 bags were collected in a truck and a 4×4 twin cab and we travelled with them in the 4×4. After travelling about 75 kilometres out of Suva, the route then took us for almost an hour along bumpy gravel tracks right up into the mountains and through dense rainforest. The truck could not make it up the steep, rough tracks, so the 4×4 had to return to the main road to collect the rest of the bags.

We eventually arrived at Burenitu school and village right in the interior. The school serves just that one village – they used to have children attending from a settlement across the river, but the bridge has broken and we were told that those children are unable to access a school now.

We were made extremely welcome, (as they hardly ever get visitors!) given lunch by the head teacher and his wife and then taken into the school hall to meet the children and the rest of the staff. There was the usual welcoming ceremony and we were both garlanded and asked to address the gathering. Then we distributed the SchoolBags. The children were very excited, as you can imagine, and the parents were visibly moved. One of their biggest problems is being able to buy essential stationery items for their school children. We wondered how long it would be before Burenitu had anyone else come to visit them!”

Margaret Long – Founder of Children of Fiji

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The excited children with their SchoolBags! Peter and Margaret from Children of Fiji also in the bottom left hand photo

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In March, School in a Bag were contacted by Cynthia Oteng from the Merona Foundation regarding getting SchoolBags out to the Manhean Community School near Accra, the capital city. Cynthia visited Manhean during the Easter break and took x5 SchoolBags in her additional luggage space which were awarded to students who had excelled in their studies. On her return to the UK she set up a fundraising page to help provide some money towards the prospect of giving each of the 520 children in Manhean a SchoolBag. In total 528 SchoolBags and hand knitted teddies were sent to Ghana through the shipping company Faze2 who delivered them door to door. The children were delighted with their SchoolBags and we were equally happy to give a deserving home to some of our hand knitted teddies!

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The children with their SchoolBags and their teddies!

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Over the Easter period, School in a Bag attended the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Conference and met their charitable arm, the Steve Sinnott Foundation (SSF). SSF work in many countries* including Haiti where they support a Learning Resource Centre in Port Au Prince. Last week, CEO Ann Beatty visited the Centre on a trip scheduled prior to the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew and took x10 SchoolBags with her in her spare baggage allowance.

“I am back from a very successful trip, although it was quite emotional at times, life in Port Au Prince goes on as usual. I have left the 10 bags with a teacher there Lency Paul and he will distribute the SchoolBags when they visit their colleagues in the area affected by the hurricane next week.

They are very keen to copy the ‘In Country’ method and they are looking at how they can get the SchoolBags made in Haiti to distribute them through the Learning Resource Centre.”

Ann Beatty – CEO Steve Sinnott Foundation

  • Ann Beatty visited Nepal during the summer and SIAB introduced the Steve Sinnott Foundation to the Helambu Education Livelihood Partnership (HELP). We are hopeful of a collaboration project in Nepal!
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SchoolBags in Haiti being transported to the recipient children

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This summer, School in a Bag made contact with educational charities operating in eastern Europe to see if there were opportunities to supply their children with SchoolBags. This is an area of the world where we have wanted to work for some time now and having beneficiaries for the increasing number of UK packed SchoolBags (particularly at the end of the school summer term) is certainly a good outlet for our continued operations.

Te Aud Romania (TAR) is a wonderful charity operating in the Suceava region in the country and lead by Gabriela Popescu, the organisation supports numerous schools throughout it. Such was the success of the first 528 SchoolBag project with TAR in September, the Phase II project came about in swift succession to provide a further 516 SchoolBags for children in five more schools in Suceava. The overland transportaion times for projects in Romania are very quick comapred with shipping consignments and for both projects SchoolBags went from door to door in three days.

School in a Bag has obviously made an immediate impact in Romania and the TAR team have managed to have a TV crew with them during each distribution getting a report on to the national news on each occasion.  To see the TV news report from Phase I click the image below:

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VIDEO of the first SchoolBag distribution in Romania!

“The feedback was great from the kids too. They absolutely loved the SchoolBags – I even talked the kids at the first school through how important school is, how much school matters in life and how important it is to learn a foreign language – using myself as an example. If I hadn’t spoken English, I would not have been able to partner with SIAB and help deliver the SchoolBags to them. I challenged them to learn 5 new English words by the time we will visit them next. A BIG THANK YOU FROM TAR team & ESPECIALLY FROM ALL THE KIDS!”

Gabriela Popescu – Founder of Te Aud Romania

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All the children delighted with their SchoolBags and teddies!  

 

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Some of the older Romanian children with their SchoolBags and teddies!

 

Thank you to everyone who has supported these projects through funding, transportation, distribution and everything else in between! We are completely indebted to you all. It just goes to show the need for SchoolBags all around the world and the more we can raise, the more SchoolBags we can fund.

Please email us: hello@schoolinabag.org if you would like to receive further information from us about supporting School in a Bag, whether it’s as part of a school, a group or an individual – we’d love to hear from you!