IDENTIFYING A NEED OF A NEW KIND
As part of our Giving Hope Through Education Programme, Blake have been privileged to support and visit a variety of schools and villages in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. But it was whilst helping children in Tanzania, donating learning materials alongside our partners at School In A Bag, that we recognised another very real need…
Many of the children were wearing either ill-fitting or very poor quality footwear, whilst some children had nothing at all to protect their feet. A photograph of a young girl named Grace Mgina particularly touched our hearts, revealing how her outgrown shoes had been cut open to allow her toes to fit through.
Something so essential, yet something that so many of us take for granted, Blake immediately committed ourselves to helping relieve this need by sending out a consignment of shoes with our very next shipment of SchoolBags to The Gambia.
And from here, our shoe collection was born!
BLAKE SHOE COLLECTION
Within days, we were sending out flyers and sharing appeals on our social channels, asking people to donate their old, unused or unwanted shoes.
Thanks to the enthusiastic uptake of our wonderful team, as well as the outstanding generosity of friends, family and complete strangers alike, we were quickly able to collect an incredible 622 pairs of shoes.
After receiving all the shoes, the Blake team then joined our partners at School in a Bag to pack them into a container and send them safely off on their long journey to The Gambia! Here we share the feedback we received from Luke Simon, Founder and CEO of the charity:
“On behalf of the team here, we wanted to say a huge thank you to the Blake contingent who helped us pack. It made such a difference having the additional hands (and muscle) and enabled us to do it all in one day. Once again, thank you for playing your part in this fulfilling project which will make such a difference to the schooling of the children and the lives of the communities in The Gambia.”
SUPPORTING NEEDY CHILDREN IN THE GAMBIA
A small country in West Africa with almost half of its 2.101 million population living in hardship and deprivation, here we share some insight into the conditions in The Gambia, and why we chose to make our donations here…
Classed as an area of 'Low Human Development', the 2010 UNDP's Human Development Report ranks The Gambia 151st out of 169 countries on its Human Development Index, making it one of the most deprived countries in the world.
With an alarmingly low literacy rate of only 55% in the country, thousands of children aren’t attending school because their families simply can’t afford to pay school fees. Schools are in desperate need of essential learning equipment, and even the children who are able to attend are being starved of the quality of education that is required to equip them for a brighter future. Not only this, but due to the widespread poverty in the country, basic essentials such as the shoes we collected are in short supply.
And so Blake, alongside our partners at School in a Bag, felt our responsibility to step in and extend our support, with the additional help of a local Gambian charity, Skoolz 4 Kids.
COLLABORATING WITH SKOOLZ 4 KIDS
S4K is a Gambian charity which has had an enormous impact on the lives of many Gambian children. Their small team do everything they can to assist students, families, communities and schools, sourcing sponsors worldwide as well as providing educational materials, furniture, books and other resources to schools across the country.
In order to carry out our project, Blake were privileged to work alongside the founders of this wonderful charity, Ginger and Sol, who played an important part in overseeing the distribution of both the shoes we collected as well as the SchoolBags Blake funded to their young recipients at the Faraba Banta Lower Basic School in the Kombo East District in the Western Division of The Gambia.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!
But…who would have thought?
The coronavirus pandemic certainly took us all by surprise, and despite arriving safely with Ginger and Sol in The Gambia after several months in transit, the strict lockdown restrictions in place at the time meant that nothing further could be done with our donations until these limitations were lifted.
Living with a superb National Health Service here in the UK, we are largely unaware of just how massively the lives of those in developing countries have been affected by the global pandemic, but sadly, The Gambia has been very severely impacted.
Thankfully, however, after maintaining stringent lockdown measures for several months, the situation in the country improved enough to allow restrictions to ease, and our young friends at the Faraba Banta School were able to receive their shoes at last!
In the heart-warming footage of the shoe distribution shown in our new video below, the children can be seen beaming happily with their shoes, saying,
“Thank you very much Blake Envelopes, we are very happy!”
Finally, we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to our shoe collection and made it such a success.
Don’t forget to look out for more Blake Foundation updates soon!