Before we came on this trip, we looked into what the greatest needs were for children. Books and school supplies we were told. My girls are avid readers and so decided this is what they would fundraise towards. We decided to collect financial donations instead of bringing items so we could purchase in Africa ensuring we bought exactly what was needed and were supporting African businesses.
People were so generous with their donations. From a child's baggie of coins to large donations each one was amazing to receive. Each night at dinner I'd update the girls on what had come in and any goals we had were soon surpassed.
On the day we set aside to shop for the books and school supplies we naively thought we could go into downtown Nairobi in the morning and be done by lunch time. One thing to always remember is everything takes longer than expected.
We decided to divide the money two ways. First by giving a portion to a school in kibera slums we have a relationship with (who we visited the next day) for text books. Secondly since all the artisans children go to different schools we gave each artisan in both Uganda and Kenya an amount per child to spend on school supplies and/or books.
Shopping locally was something I felt passionate about but the logistics were trickier. How would we know what to buy? What was the easiest way to shop for over 40 kids and a school at once?
We settled on a staff member from the school joining us and 2-3 of the artisans would come with a list of what everyone needs.
When we met at the bus stop the school staff, Rose, was there... as were nearly every single one of the artisans. They all wanted to join us!
We first went to the store where they sell school uniforms and such. School uniforms and shoes are required and a great expense for parents struggling just to pay the school fees. Our group spent over two hours in this store carefully choosing how to best spend their budget. Agonizing over each cent to make sure they made the best decisions. We purchased uniforms and shoes and the school socks and backpacks here depending on each child's need.
We next went to a bookstore. Again lists were pulled out and they struggled to determine which books were necessities and which they could wait to save up for. We also worked through the large wish list for the school textbooks determining how many could be purchased of each title. Calculators pulled out and number crunching the afternoon away as we spent an hour and a half in this store.
Throughout the shopping different people came up to us and said "our children will smile big today." "Our family is so happy for this."
Education is top priority for these parents. Knowing that an education allows their children opportunities and the keys for success. These artisans work so hard because their top priority is seeing their children receive the best education they can. When we ask what is needed for change the answer is always education. Thank you to all who gave so generously to invest in these young lives.
When we returned students were just getting back from school and we were able to see some of them receive their gifts. They were so grateful and excited for new shoes, or a new uniform or school books. Thank you so much!! We hope to have a tally of everything that was purchased once we shop in Uganda also.
Lots of group discussions on what to purchase
Lists were definitely needed!
(Note: Dans great blue suit is from the campaign for my 40th birthday last year where we purchased custom suits and dresses for all the artisans made by African tailors!)
Made in Kenya! Purchased in Kenya! Supporting local businesses!
Using Eden as a model to determine what size uniform to buy want it big enough to last for awhile but not too big... tough decisions!
Bags upon bags at the first store
Some of the books purchased
Carefully guarding the boxes and bags while we find a taxi. The girls and I and Rose (from the school) took the taxi with all the purchases back to kibera. The rest came back by bus or boda boda (motorcycle).
Mary couldn't wait to put on her new shoes!
Peterson hugging some of his new books!