ESOL tutor Gayle Pearson wanted help making fabric bags to be taken to Africa. She was overwhelmed at the response to a story on Number 8 Network, and reprinted in the Hamilton News.
“I was overwhelmed and delighted with the response – more than a dozen more people have offered their skills and time, it was very exciting. We’ll easily make the numbers required.”
She has picked up the first finished bags – “And I have another eight ready to collect. I’ve also dropped off lots of fabric and instructions. People have donated material as well, which is wonderful.”
It came about because Gayle wanted to do something for a young volunteer who had helped in her class every week for about nine months.
The volunteer was Abby Fisher, who was 19 at the time. She came in three or four times a week to help teach English to former refugees where Gayle works at English Language Partners.
Abby, who has just been won the youngest Volunteer of the Year at the Waikato Volunteer Excellence Awards was returning to Africa.
“She had been teaching English and health studies to young students living in a rural village in Malawi, loved it and decided to return in July. She had been truly outstanding helping me in my class, and I wanted to do something for her in return.
“So I asked if there was something that might be useful, thinking she might like a box or two of pencils, and she said the children really needed bags to put their school books in.”
It turned out that the students, aged from eight to 13, shared bags, which meant all the books went home with one individual, making it hard for the others to do their homework. Simple fabric bags would make all the difference but at least 80 were needed before the end of September. The plan was for Abby’s mother to take them with her when she visited in October.
During a catch-up with Number 8 Network’s Annette Taylor Gayle mentioned this – and a story was written for the website and shared with the Hamilton News. And the offers of help flooded in.
“It has been fantastic. It’s lovely to see there are so many people wanting to take part and help.”
A huge, heart-felt thank you to everyone who helped with this project, from Annette and Gayle.