Backpacks of Blessing, an international Christian ministry that blesses underprivileged communities by providing schoolchildren with backpacks containing stationery and basic school supplies, recently completed its first outreach in the Eastern Cape.
Ministry representatives Louis Foord and Carel Strydom scompleted a 2 000km road trip between Port Elizabeth and Alice in just four days, during which they visited five schools and distributed 342 backpacks. They trained 15 teachers to do follow-up work with the children using Mailbox Club (MBC) materials. Several more will be trained shortly by ministry partner Amor Bezuidenhout in Sunridge Park, Port Elizabeth.
The children previously carried the books in plastic bags, so it was extremely gratifying to experience the joy and gratitude with which the bags and stationery were received, said Foord.
“With such a tangible show of God’s love, it was hard not to get an overwhelming commitment from each child to give their absolute best in the coming 12 week MBC follow-up programme.
In all the schools that were visited, classrooms were overcrowded and understaffed. Some teachers have to contend with classes of up to 70 children! Some of the rural schools are nothing more than converted farmhouses — one of which houses 131 children.
“It’s absolutely heartrending to see under what circumstances these children have to perform. Rooms are overcrowded, roofs fall in and walls have not seen a brush of paint for ages,” said Foord.
Like all other kids in affluent societies they too have dreams of successful careers and positions in life. However, chances of that becoming a reality is almost non-existent if one takes into consideration the gross lack of resources they have to contend with, he said.
Foord and Strydom returned home with joyful hearts and refreshed souls, absolutely convinced that God has a wonderful future for “Backpacks of Blessing” in Africa. They appeal to the public to open their hearts and ears to God’s Spirit.
“Maybe you can get involved with the Children and Teachers in Alice. One school desperately needs two personal computers for the children to learn basic computer skills,” said Foord.