In August of 2018, I set upon my first journey to South Africa. Being a teacher, I always have shared my excitement about learning and passion for the Bush with my students. The beginning of school brought a challenging dilemma: Was I going to share with my Grade 4 students my impending adventure or was this something for myself ? The decision was gently, humbly taken from me in a class discussion. The class overwhelmingly wanted to make a difference in the lives of those in the Sabi Sands area. I remember having to step in the hallway to cry. I was so moved by intense concern for students halfway round the world.
The entrance to Hanani, on the way to the Northern Sabi Sand (South Africa)
The school I teach in encourages teachers to develop Academic Social Learning projects. Academic goals are used to drive the students’ learning in making an impact in our local or global community. The ultimate goal is for students to guide their own learning with an end goal. The onset of School Supplies for Hananani Primary School was in motion and grew into a life of its own. Class goals were set for the amount of money to raise to develop with specific plans of monthly fundraisers to hold. Each student took leadership roles to make holiday treats to sell, visit local businesses to ask for donations, used classroom time to create flyers, hallway advertisements, letters to family and friends, involving their parents and families, but most of all, develop a unique understanding of our connection in a global community. If you were to ask any student why choose Hananani Primary School a half a world away, the response would be:
“Every student deserves to have the same learning tools as we do to learn.”
The love of the Bush grew for my students by watching live Safari drives and they formed a partnership with a South African wildlife broadcasting company.
For my students, School Supplies for Hananani is more than a connection beyond just “helping”. My school is a low-income school, they understood the struggles of the students at Hananani. They truly understand the difficulties of access to school supplies. By year’s end, the class had reached and surpassed their goal. Just under $2000USD of school supplies were ordered.
Those packages were delivered in July, 2019. My Mama and I had the very special moments of being at Hananani Primary when delivery was made. Witnessing boxes upon boxes taken from a vehicle to an emptied office will remain with me always. Fifty boxes of pencils, notebooks, erasers, crayons, calculators, learning tools for math, and a variety of other supplies made the journey from a quietly getting the job done classroom teacher and her students to Hananani Primary in Dixie, South Africa.
Watching that moment when hard work and dedication come to life changed me. School Supplies for Hananani now has become my passion. My students had changed who I was throughout that first project. I went from an introvert who would never ask a doctor or dentist or personal friend or heaven forbid a stranger to donate money. Creating donation sites and seeking funds from around the globe now has become a dedicated part of my practice. Those strangers have become family, traveling buddies, and ardent supporters of my classes. Not only the project but learning tools for past and current students. Now, I have no “fear” of asking for donations. Those Grade 4 students taught me if the drive is there, the will is as well. If one has passion, one has determination.
The donation that finally made its way to Hanani!
The project has continued now for four years. Even facing the lack of a partnership when the wildlife broadcasting company ended our partnership, the determination was there to overcome this roadblock that held School Supplies for Hananani back. In 2020, once again I was planning to visit South Africa and would be traveling with WanderingThru. I approached Ale and Wandering Thru for assistance and a bond was formed. As we know, the year of 2020 turned the world upside down. Year Two turned into Year Three. Another $2000USD of supplies were ordered and delivered to Hananani this past August by Ale.
Ale is affectionately known by my students as “Miss Ale”. They may never have seen her nor spoken to her, they love her dearly. My classes have grown to know Tristan, “Mr. Tristan”, and have learned much about the ecology of the Bush through watching live Safari Drives from him. One or two may have even developed admiration and intense love for leopards. They have an American classroom who considers them family. They are family to me.
Now my Grade 2 students are undertaking the tradition of Year 4 of School Supplies for Hananani. This year’s group boasts 3 students who are following in their siblings footsteps of the project. Another humbling moment to realize multiple generations have been involved. The group has set another goal, setting their learning goals, and are quickly on their way to reaching them. Another humbling year of raising funds to support learning a half a world away. Another trip is planned with Wandering Thru for 2022. I am profoundly grateful to Ale and Wandering Thru for their continued support. For me, the passion of my heart continues.
If you’d like to directly donate to support Mrs. Mason and this year’s 4th graders you can click here