Spotlight on July 2018's charity - SchoolBOX
In some ways, cacao is a fussy agricultural product. It only grows in a narrow band around the equator, and is susceptible to a variety of diseases and weather conditions. It is also true that the areas of the world where cacao is grown are facing a number of important social challenges. July’s boxes contain single-origin chocolate from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua. Like many cacao-growing regions of the world, people living in these countries often face crushing poverty, which will be no surprise to you if you’re following the series on our blog about The Chocolate Bookshelf.
Hummingbird Chocolate, who chose the chocolate for Coffret’s July boxes, also chose a charity for July that is taking action at the grassroots level to address some of the social challenges in one of the countries that produces the cacao in their chocolate – Nicaragua. SchoolBOX is an organisation dedicated to making education possible for the children of Nicaragua.
In Nicaragua, only 56% of children complete schooling up to the 6th grade. Tom Affleck, the founder, discovered just how simple helping a child meet that milestone can be, while traveling in the country in 2006. He gave a young girl a notebook and a pencil, and heard her father say: “Now that you have a notebook and a pencil you can go to school this year.” In the last twelve years, the organisation has provided students and teachers in Nicaragua with upwards of 500, 000 notebooks, built 99 new classrooms, installed 75 school libraries, and built or refurbished more than 60 washroom facilities serving schools across the country.
Packages of school supplies are distributed to individual students, to ensure that the distribution of supplies is as transparent as possible. Teachers are also provided with packages of supplies (planning notebooks, dry-erase markers, pencil sharpeners, etc.), to support them in the day-to day running of their classrooms. SchoolBOX also introduced “Reading Days” in 2015, special events at their partner schools including reading games, song, and dance to encourage students to love reading.
It’s important to underline just how important receiving a basic education can be in many of the poorest parts of the world. For every additional year a young boy spends in primary school, their lifetime incomes will increase by 10%. Every additional year a young girl spends in primary school will increase her lifetime earnings by 20%. In a country like Nicaragua, where the average annual income is $430 a year (or $1.18 a day), that can absolutely be the difference between sending your own children to school or not, creating generational impact for something as simple as a notebooks and books for the school library.
There are definite challenges of working to support education in Nicaragua. In June of 2018, the organisation had to suspend temporarily programming and construction of new classrooms because of the difficulties imposed by multiple road blocks impeding transportation in the country, and making it dangerous for Nicaraguan staff to travel to the communities they serve. Many of these staff members have dedicated their lives to education in Nicaragua, and until it is safe for them to resume their work safely, SchoolBOX will be helping to support them.
If you would like to know more about SchoolBOX, and the work that they do, you can go to www.schoolbox.ca. You can also make an additional donation to the work that they do there, if you would like to do so. Every little bit does make a difference.