In some countries, 40% of children aren’t prepared for primary schooling. With minimal household income, thousands of families cannot provide their children with school supplies, making it impossible for children to enroll in education.
The Dominican Republic is one of those countries – a place where education is not accessible to children who cannot afford necessary school supplies. It’s also a place where Worldline’s parent company, Fibernetics, has its contact centre filled with amazing people like Peter Cross.
“I love kids. I have lived down here for 10 years, but it still pains me to see the poverty around me on an everyday basis. Kids with clothes falling off their backs or no shoes on their feet… Kids who are 7 or 8 years old forced to work in the streets either shining shoes or begging for money.” This is what fueled Peter, our VP at Fibernetics’ Contact Centre, to assist Fibernetics with these children in need.
Our fundraiser in the Dominican Republic, Backpacks For Kids, was developed to provide necessary school supplies for children who are not able to enroll in education due to poverty. This year, Fibernetics supplied 127 backpacks packed with school supplies. Peter Cross has attended all of these events, “This is our fourth annual Backpacks For Kids event and is the largest we have done to date.”
It started off at Peter’s house; where volunteers helped cook 250 hotdogs and supplied refreshing drinks for after the event was over. Due to extreme heat, the event started at 4:30p.m. However, parents and their children started arriving as early as 1:00p.m. Luckily, we had provided gazebos so attendees could relax in the shade until the start time.
Each backpack contained notebooks, pencils, erasers, glue, rulers, etc. For younger kids, they would include materials like crayons and pencil crayons, too. Since we have a limited supply of backpacks, we distributed tickets to children in various different neighbourhoods and collected their names during the weeks leading up to the event. This way we could prepare and plan the amount of backpacks we’ll need.
Children also received a gift certificate for $1000 peso, which can be used toward buying their school uniform. This amount of money is enough to buy a pair of pants, a dress shirt and socks. It was just like an awards ceremony; the child was called up, they received their backpack and gift certificate, and the crowd applauded as they were given a new chance with education. With this gift, they are able to attend school.
As the day came to a close, there were four children left who had been patiently waiting for their names to be called. They did not have tickets, but had heard about the event and attended with hopes that Fibernetics could help. Fortunately, we had extra supplies to provide each of them with their own backpack and a gift certificate. They were ecstatic.
This day was filled with hope, excitement and love – feelings you don’t always experience all in the same place. We are so grateful to have the ability to help these amazing children and cannot wait for next years’ Backpack For Kids event!