A heartwarming story of #Education4Recovery

Students during distributions in Zimbabwe in 2014

The following was written by ShelterBox Response Team member, Liz Odell, after her deployment to Zimbabwe in 2014

I want to tell you about the day we helped to send Faith and 600 more children back to school after months of turmoil in Chingwizi, Zimbabwe.

As a volunteer with ShelterBox, I have been lucky enough to deliver some very special boxes. I know that you support ShelterBox, and you’ve very kindly helped to provide ShelterKits and ShelterBoxes in emergencies. But this day was about a very different kind of box that is just as important in an emergency: the SchoolBox — when we open the box, we restore futures for children like Faith.

If you’ve recently sent your own children or grandchildren back to school, you’ll have bought pencils, cases and notepads just like the ones inside the SchoolBox. But to children like Faith living in a camp in Zimbabwe, these simple things were much more than everyday materials. Here, they restored a future washed away by floods.

Faith’s village was forced to move to temporary shelters in Chingwizi, far away from their homes and school. ShelterBox came to the area after hearing about these families and a dedicated group of teachers doing all they could to help keep the children in school.

They had set up a makeshift school in an open-sided tent but had almost no supplies. The teachers were dedicated, but they were also desperate — they were nearly down to their last piece of chalk. Without this basic material, they knew it would be very nearly impossible to carry on teaching vital lessons like maths and science. The next morning at 7am, we returned to the school with SchoolBoxes. Word had got out and, by the time we arrived, the whole village was there to greet us.

It was an incredible sight! 600 children sat in a huge semicircle, along with the entire village. Everyone here knew that a school meant a future for their children.

When the life-changing SchoolBoxes were opened I think the teachers were just as excited as the children! They pulled out a solar-powered radio, which meant they could tune into lessons broadcast over the radio. After that, boxes and boxes of chalk — 1000 sticks in total — plus dozens of yellow school bags for the children.

The bright yellow bags immediately captured the gaze of every child. They couldn’t wait to have one of their own. When it was Faith’s turn to receive her yellow bag, she looked fit to burst with delight. Faith treated her bag like a treasure and I knew why. All her possessions had been washed away in the floods.

This was the first thing she’d been given that was hers.

Faith with her school bag
As I looked across the expanse of red dust, there were spots of bright yellow as far as the eye could see — a yellow bag on every child’s back. They had their future back.

A gift of $50 will send 2 children back to school. Please consider a gift today to help children who have been affected by disasters and conflict get back to their education.

Thank you so much for your support.

Visit our website to learn more about our aid and how you can help families recover after disaster: www.shelterboxcanada.org/education4recovery

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