Her View–The five dollar uniform….

January 11, 2010

Once the email communication was opened up the principal and I corresponded daily. I am much more prone to continuing any email correspondance than Immy is, so I was the one who regularly wrote back to him. I remember asking the principal for his “wish list” for the school, and I could not believe the outpouring of gratitude that came back, along with the list of supplies needed.

Apparently, they needed EVERYTHING–from pencils and pens and erasers and books to shoes and socks and parkas.Everything. ( when we got there, and saw the condition of the classrooms –see photo below –I couldnt believe how empty they were)

What followed was a whirlwind activity of  preparations and putting a call out to my church members to “donate stuff” . Foolishly I thought:  how much could there be? Boy!! was I surprised. People generously dropped off BOXES of stuff on my front door step. Within a few days of me mentioning the need for articles…I quickly realized that that wasn’t going to work…unless I wanted to charter a small plane, I could not POSSIBLY shlep all this stuff over to India in two duffle bags.

The idea of carting over piles of stuff soon lost all its glamour, as I realized that while people meant well–it couldnt happen. Through the correspondance, I learned that a lot of the kids from the villages could not attend school, because they had no uniforms. If they had no uniforms, they couldnt go to school ( I know…I didnt get that either, but their country, their rules) I did some research and found out that one uniform costs about 5$. Ok, so then I thought..instead of giving me stuff to take over…how about, people “buy uniforms?” Those that wanted to donate, could give donations in the increment of 5$ denominations..thereby buying uniforms for the kids. That idea worked like magic. People gave donations easily…what’s 5$ after all? Thats what I pay for a Caffe Latte from Starbucks ( Venti, of course) Little kids gave me 5$allowance money..some people gave me 100$–and said “there, that will buy 20 uniforms”!!  And it did. When I left Canada on July 9th, 2008 I carried with me 500$ in cash, enough for 100 uniforms, and 2 duffle bags full of stuff for kids…from arithmetic flash cards to a stuffed zebra….

The 5$ Uniform!

Of course, we had no idea what to expect, we just knew that they were “poor”. I knew that they learned english in school, but I didnt know if they had a photocopier, ditto machine, carbon paper, books, computers, chalk, chalkboard??? How was I going to prepare for class, if I didnt have access to a photocopier? Did the kids have pens? Pencils? desks?? I had no idea, and just thought that if worse came to worse, I would just  ‘wing it ‘ and really, come on,  how bad could it be? I was an experienced teacher after all and I taught the toughest group out there –the dreaded TEENAGER. I was pretty confident  I would do just fine and besides I was determeined to ‘go with the flow’. Boy, did that philosophy come in handy!!


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