Many hands make a big difference! The Gondwana Care Trust is once again lending a helping hand to Santa Claus this year. As part of the Back-to-School Christmas Bag Project all Gondwana employees in Windhoek are called upon to help pack reusable bags that are distributed to disadvantaged children just before Christmas.
The bags, which contain basic stationery, cosmetics and non-perishable food items, are intended to bring joy to underprivileged children at Christmas, provide them with basic stationary for the beginning of the new school year in January and encourage them to attend school. The Gondwana Care Trust works with local suppliers and like-minded partners who sponsor products for the Back-to-School Christmas Bag Project or make monetary donations. Further support comes from generous guests of Gondwana lodges who can "buy" and donate a bag for a needy child throughout the year, or from customers of the online store The Narrative Namibia.
The Gondwana Care Trust administers the donations and funds and ensures that each bag is given to a child who has been registered for the project through a school, hostel, orphanage or centre for children with special needs. In September, these partner institutions provide the Gondwana Care Trust with lists, containing names of the children, gender, age, class and any special needs.
In October, shopping is done for the Back-to-School Christmas Bag Project, and then the big packing begins! Each individual reusable bag is labelled with the child's name. Depending on age and gender, a toy, colouring book or reading book is packed inside. Basic stationery consists of pens, pencils, crayons, ruler, eraser, plastic folder, an exercise book, and for older grades, a calculator and math set if available. In addition, cosmetic items are added such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and a small towel. And of course, a little treat may not be missing. After all, what would Christmas be without sweets?
As soon as the bags are packed, they are sent to the recipients. In most cases, ambassadors from the Gondwana lodges or the Gondwana Travel Centre are present to hand over the bags at the end-of-year ceremonies of the registered institutions.
The Back-to-School Christmas Bag Project has been in place for several years, and has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 and 2021, the Gondwana Care Trust could bring joy to 2500 children each year. In 2022, hopefully, there will be more!
The Paukeni Kindergarden near Rundu is a registered recipient of the Christmas bags.