A double helping of generosity for African Impact…

Sonja Hughes is managing a volunteer project in Mozambique through African Impact and The Happy Africa Foundation. She got in touch with news of their first Stuff Your Rucksack visitors. Two travellers, Maria and Maria from Spain, went to the organisation in October.

She tells us: “African Impact are running a pre-school for 70 Mozambican children so we always need lots of teaching resources, especially art and craft items which are difficult to get out here. We also provide adult English classes in the town. Many, many adults and teenagers in Vilanculos are desperate to learn English and recognise it is as a path to finding a good job.

Children outside the pre-school

Adult English class

“Maria Lerena found us on the website and contacted me to say she would be visiting Vilanculos. I sent her a donation wish list, plus some recommendations for places to stay and activities around the area.

Maria and her friend, Maria, arrived at our volunteer house. They had brought so many great things for us – face paints, crayons, stickers, plus new text books for the English classes, which we desperately needed. Thanks to their donations, we have been able to start a new upper intermediate class.

A pupil puts the face paints to good use!

“We would love to see more visitors from Stuff your Rucksack, and of course they will be welcome to visit our projects whilst in Vilanculos. Thank you again to Maria and Maria, and to Stuff your Rucksack!”

You can visit the African Impact Facebook page to find out more.

Little Acorns

Some time ago we received this story about a charity that actually began with someone stuffing her rucksack for the children of The Gambia. Marjorie Warwick took a bagful of pens when she travelled to the area for a holiday, back in the early 1990s.

She was so enchanted by the children, who had so little but loved to learn, that she looked into local planning permission that would allow her to build a school for local children.

It took two years but she managed to raise the money. Sadly, she died before it was ever completed, but her daughter-in-law, Judith Hughes, elected to take it over and the first school was finished in 1998.

The charity, HASTE, has now been running for almost two decades, and has built ten new schools in that time.

It just goes to show what a simple action can lead to.

It’s good to talk

Since Stuff Your Rucksack re-launched last year, we have had some incredible feedback from charities and travellers alike, who have received and given donations that have changed lives for the better. We like to share these stories with you as much as possible, with our success stories page on the website (keep an eye out over the coming weeks for the latest stories!), and we will also be adding some messages from SYR travellers and charities to the new blog. Messages like this, from travelling photographer Robyn Gwilt:

‘In Sept 2011 before our first Botswana/Namibia/Zimbabwe trip, my husband
Anthony found Stuff Your Rucksack online.  I mentioned it to our friends who were joining us on our trip. Everyone bought into the idea and contributed something for the trip, as did other friends and family members.

We filled 3 boxes with baby and children’s clothes, 40 plastic lunch boxes and
40 plastic juice bottles, blackboards, whiteboards and crayons, and about 10 soccer balls courtesy of Equatorial Guinea Liquid Natural Gas, where my husband works.

We visited Devava Kindergarten in Namibia: a tiny school built under a tin roof in the blazing African sun, where between 30 and 50 young children gather daily for care, while their parents work at the nearby lodges.

We departed with a couple of soccer balls left over, and handed them out along the way to various other schools in the area – places where we found children playing with ‘makeshift’ balls. Soccer truly crosses all boundaries, and it was wonderful to see the look on their faces when we gave them our surprise!

I offer this simple message: before you travel, there is always someone, somewhere who will appreciate something that you no longer have a need for.
You don’t even need to travel far – there could be something right on your doorstep. Wherever it is, if you recognise a worthy cause, add it to
Stuff Your Rucksack!’

Communication is at the heart of the Stuff Your Rucksack concept. Through the power of word-of-mouth we have endeavoured to bring together a global community of amazing projects and generous travellers who, bit by bit, want to make the world a better place.

Robyn also took some fantastic pictures of their visit. Here are just a selection: