In August, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) challenges people to donate 10,000 school kits—full of school supplies—for 10,000 children around the world. This School Kit Challenge has the extra incentive of a school kit photo contest.
Kit supplies include pencils, pens, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, ruler, colored pencils and four spiral-bound notebooks. (Details at mcc.org/school-kit-challenge). They are combined in a cloth, drawstring bag, which is useful for distribution and for a student’s organization.
In many countries, children don’t have access to these basic supplies because of poverty, conflict or disaster. Last year, MCC sent out nearly 90,000 school kits to children on five continents.
Giving school kits has its own reward, but for a little extra fun and challenge, MCC is offering two free pizza parties: one for the most creative photo of the school kits you donate and one for the most school kits shown in a photo. Just post the photos on Facebook or Instagram, tag @mccpeace and use the hashtag #MCCSchoolKitChallenge by Aug. 31 to be entered in the contest.
Students at Rumbek Comboni Primary School in Rumbek, South Sudan, could be among those who benefit from the kits that are collected. Parents struggle to find all the school supplies that are in a kit at the local market, and if they do find them, they could cost more than 5,000 South Sudanese Pounds—an entire month’s wages—for the items in a single kit.
Mary Aniong Achien, 16, is a student at Comboni. She’s in her eighth and final year of primary school and wants to be a doctor when she graduates. She’s received a school kit both of the last two years at Comboni and says it’s made a huge difference for her as a student.
“How do you take notes without notebooks?” says Achien. “I did not understand well in class before I had them, but now I can take notes in all my classes. And the bag makes everything easy to carry around—otherwise we just leave our materials on the ground.”
Achien also says that she’s very aware of how difficult it would be for her parents to buy her supplies like these. “We girls—our mothers are not educated, so it is very difficult for them to get enough money. But with the school kit, my parents can buy food instead of books. May God bless the people who gave us these books.”
Of the 2,000 students that attend grades one to eight at Comboni, most will receive one school kit each year. Principal Sister Lydia Assenga says the impact the school kits have on the students is very clear.
“When I arrived here in 2019, I could go into the classes and see no students writing at all,” says Assenga. “Now, the students with the school kits are the ones who write. When parents want to send their children here, we can assure them their children will write and that is a big incentive. God has given our school a special gift.”
By Jason Dueck, communications specialist for MCC Canada
Mary Aniong Achien, 16, in South Sudan getting and unpacking her school kit, www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO7NOs7Qrv8
How to build a school kit, www.youtube.com/watch?v=jirZxFaXOGU
Mennonite Central Committee is a global, nonprofit organization that strives to share God’s love and compassion for all through relief, development and peace. MCC is committed to relationships with their local partners and churches. As an Anabaptist organization, they strive to make peace a part of everything they do.