September is a captivating time of the year in Africa, with Spring's arrival transforming the desert into a vibrant spectacle of life. However, as we revel in the beauty of nature, we also come to realise that the local school year is drawing to a close, and Christmas is fast approaching. Where has this year gone?
One of Gondwana Care Trust's enduring projects is the "Back-to-School Christmas Bag Project," and it's a personal favourite. It's a delightful opportunity to play Santa and witness our colleagues enthusiastically select a school, carefully review the list of students from all grades, and assemble schoolbags filled with stationery kits, educational toys, hygiene products, and, if possible, some food items and sweets. These bags aren't randomly put together; they encapsulate the heart and soul of Gondwana Collection Namibia. We take pride in tailoring each bag based on information received from the school's principal, from academic performance to favourite hobbies. Every student receives a book, and inside it, we hide a personalised message to empower them to persevere and never give up.
Throughout September, October and November, we meticulously pack and write each student's name on the front of their bag to ensure that it truly becomes their own. Whenever possible, we create special parcels to express our gratitude to the dedicated teachers and educators whose passion greatly influences students' success. We're fortunate to have long-standing relationships with suppliers in the hospitality industry whose generosity and support make this possible.
The project receives incredible support from our international community of guests who stay at Gondwana lodges throughout the year. Thanks to these individual contributions, we can provide bags to all learners in a class and grade, from Chobe in the North to Grunau in the South. Our lodge teams take immense pride in presenting the bags during year-end ceremonies, forging connections with schools and local children in their communities. We capture these joyful moments in photographs and share them with our donors worldwide, allowing them to witness the positive impact of their support in Namibia.
This project is our way of making a significant impact in the field of education. From the littlest toddlers in early childhood education and pre-primary schools to young adolescents striving for their best grades, it brings us immense joy to equip them with the tools and love they need to succeed. It's our way of saying, "We see you, and we believe in you."
Author: Sonia Noirfalise
Photos: Sonia Noirfalise and Kyara Leuschner