SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 50: How you have helped our partners home-school during the COVID-19 lockdown  

For Blog in a Bag 49, we presented the dilemma facing our International partners during this Coronavirus pandemic…‘How do you home-school during a lockdown in the developing world?’

The short answer is ‘with great difficulty’ – without the abundance of technological gadgets and good wifi connectivity that we are blessed with, our partners are faced with executing the best practices and measures they can to ensure that the children they support maintain some level of learning.  This ranges from creating and delivering printing worksheets and recording lessons for radio broadcasts right through to making calls to parents to advise of learning topics/techniques and producing audio/video lessons that could be made accessible on devices or the internet.

The blog post was coupled with the 3 Peaks Staircase Challenge – a fundraiser that team School in a Bag had promoted as an idea to raise money and help pass the time in lockdown…and then felt compelled to participate in.  On May 2nd, Founder and CEO Luke Simon completed the Challenge in 6hrs and 28 minutes summiting the equivalent height of the highest mountains in Wales (Mount Snowdon), England (Scafel Pike) and Scotland (Ben Nevis) back to back to back, climbing a combined height of 3,508 metres by going up and down the staircase to the office 1,514 times!

The Challenge raised funds for our International partners and their efforts to educate the children they support in lockdown and we were amazed by the generosity of our amazing supporters and donors who helped us raise almost £2,000!  In all, School in a Bag were able to make contributions of £400 to our partners who requested financial assistance.  Here are some of the ways the money was spent:

Partner: Mercy and Grace

In Vijayawada, our partners have been able to provide children with stationery and educational resources to enable them to learn as schools are to remain closed until August.  Whilst Mercy and Grace run their own school and invited outside children to visit it and receive their gifts, our contribution has enabled them to seek out children who live in the slums to provide them with basic learning resources as well.

“Hope you saw the pictures of the Children who have got educational materials and learning skills of mathematics.  Underprivileged children are struggling to learn, read and write because they don’t have any resources and teaching during this locking period for 3 months up to August.”

“Today, hot, hot summer temperature in India. Children are feeling uncomfortable by COVID and Hot Summer Season with record temperatures of 44 degrees.”

 “All of these children are very, very poor and needy. The teacher and volunteer working for educating the Children at slum Areas.  First Day is introducing and teaching materials distribution and next day onwards starts teaching in every day.  Children are happy to learn read and write to know new subjects.

We are searching and looking for potential donors and sponsors like you to educate underprivileged and impoverished and Orphan Children from slums and Villages.  The Children are struggling suffering and starving for daily basic needs. We hope that one day we will reach to fulfil the dream and vision to meet basic needs of the Children to make a difference in their lives for a better life and bright future.”

Madhava – Mercy and Grace

Partner: Merona FoundationIn Accra, the donation to the Merona Foundation was used to buy three printers for Star International, Saviour Children Foundation and Faithway Christian Academy schools so that they could print out worksheets.“Good afternoon Luke. A thank you message from a beneficiary below.” Cynthia “On behalf of the board of directors of Faithway Baptist Church and Academy, I wish to express our profound gratitude and appreciation to you for the gesture (printer) given to us.
Please kindly forward this piece of appreciation to the Donner for us.
We say thank you and may God bless you.”Rev. Moses
Faithway Baptist Church and Academy

Partner: Rural Development Welfare Society

In Visakhapatnam, our partners RDWS sent the following report:

As with the grant provided by SIAB, we had been bought some Story books, charts for drawing and doing art and craft and English Dictionaries to improve the vocabulary in the children and we provided them with a kit of pen, pencils and crayons copy writing books and few note books etc. and also provided with glucose energy drink and biscuits to improve the immunity in their body and mind to concentrate on their regular educational studies and to improve immunity in their body so as to fight against attack of Corona Virus. We also prepared a very good time table for these children to follow during this lockdown to continue their education as without any interruption because we have a good force of volunteers in each and every village to assist them with proper coaching during early morning classes at their home. We had been instructed each and every volunteer to go and visit each child and help him/her in their regular academic studies with personal concentration. Main project activities are as follows:

  • Awareness to all children and their parents and all stake holders in the villages on the care and protection from attack of Corona Virus through maintain of personal hygiene, regular hand wash and through practice of social distance.
  • It is decided to help 342 children from 18 villages through this project by providing them with a Time table to each child and educational materials like, dictionaries, work books, note books, charts and crayons, pencils, pen for doing and art and craft, providing a set of copy writing skills to improve their hand writing skills and story books so to improve their moral and communication skills.
  • We are also providing them with face masks, hand wash soaps, hand sanitizers etc. prevent them from attack of Corona virus. We also providing them with glucose energy drink, biscuits etc. to improve the immunity in their bodies because improvement of immunity is one of the solutions to protect us from the Corona Virus.
  • We are providing training to our village-based volunteers to take up regular classes at the homes of the children doorstep by assisting them in their academic education and also help them in spoken English and mathematics and general science subjects through conducting regular classes for the children at their home by maintaining social distance methods.

“This is about just today program in one village and will continue this project in more and more villages by the end of this month with our village volunteers.

Thanking you so much for your cooperation in this project.”

John Suresh Babu,
National Director-RDWS,

Partner: Pamoja LeoThanks to support from School in a Bag we have purchased MP3 players and speakers with prerecorded lessons by our wonderful education team.We have loaded them up with English, Maths, Songs, fun games and also the comforting voices of Teacher Sarah.Sarah is more than just a teacher to the children or in some ways you can say she is the full meaning of a teacher. She is for many of the children the first adult that showed them they were capable, she was the one that sat with them after their Mum died and taught them to trust the works again, she is the one that explained that it’s ok to cry, she is the one that sat with them while they raged and showed them that they were lovable afterwards.Being away from school for many at risk children is about more than lost learning – many are aching for their special teachers, social workers and care givers.We visit every one or two weeks but now they have their teachers voice with them to help them learn but also provide that little comfort.Georgina Harris Hill – Pamoja Leo

After we had donated the funds from the 3 Peaks Challenge, we received a late request from a partner and we felt they could just not go without.  Therefore, we donated to them and now, once again, we need to raise some more money to recuperate the debt!!…

I think you might know where this is heading!

Not put off by the staircase up to the office, the new plan is up the ante and have a go at another Lockdown Staircase Challenge on a bigger mountain:

So, the fundraising page has been left open and amended, training has commenced since the 3 Peaks Staircase Challenge, Nepalese prayer flags now adorn the walls and bannisters and the Everest Staircase Challenge will take place on Friday May 29th (which coincidentally happens to be the 67th anniversary of the first Everest summit in 1953).  The targets…1. to raise more money to provide ongoing supporting for our partners as the lockdown extends, 2. to complete the challenge and 3. to try and do it in under 24hrs.
The statistics:
Height of Everest:  8,848 metres
Flights of Stairs:  4,023 (2.2 metres in elevation gain per flight)
Start time:  04.00 hrs
Estimated finish time:  ??

Our wonderful supporters were incredibly generous for the 3 Peaks warm up event and I am hoping that my efforts can muster some more funds to help the plight of our brilliant partners who are working so hard to keep providing education for their children during this pandemic.  I am also hoping that my knees survive the ordeal!  To make your contribution, please visit the fundraising page.

Thank you to the amazing teachers who have made home-schooling very easy for our children during the lockdown. We wish them an enjoyable half term and the very best of luck for the reopening of schools on June 1st to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children.
Thank you for your continued support.  Please stay safe and well.
Luke Simon

School in a Bag is a charity born out of the Piers Simon Appeal, a charity set-up by Founder & CEO, Luke Simon, in memory of his older brother Piers, who lost his life in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. To date, over 118,500 SchoolBags have been distributed to children in 45 countries around the world, giving them the necessary tools to be able to attend school and therefore have a lifeline out of poverty and hardship. Equally, if they have been affected by war or a natural disaster and had to flee their home, the SchoolBags provide the tools to be able to gain some stability and normality back in their lives by attending school. To see more of the work we do, please take a look at our website: