Not everyone has the dedication and persistence to grow a charity that changes the world for the better.
But the people behind ‘Room to Read’ and the ‘Sheldrick Wildlife Foundation’ are making a real difference to lives of children and animals.
Room to Read
Education is one of the most powerful determinants in a child’s life. Tens of millions of kids around the world are still missing out altogether on a formal education, even though basic literacy skills dramatically increase a child’s chances of breaking the poverty cycle.
A shortage of teachers, lack of classrooms and insufficient resources to buy necessities like books and writing pads means that many children are unable to better themselves socially and economically, despite desperately wanting to do so. This is where Room to Read steps in. Its goal is to “inspire children to read, expand their minds and develop a lifelong love for reading and learning.”
The charity focuses on creating systemic change within the schools of impoverished areas by:
- Helping early primary school children to acquire literacy skills, and
- Encouraging girls to continue education through high school.
Room to Read works together with communities to help young children read and write. This involves providing trained teachers and reading materials in local languages.
Some school classroom are too hot, dark and overcrowded for children to concentrate properly, so Room to Read also helps to create more comfortable classrooms for kids to learn in – providing lighting, furniture, ventilation and dedicated library spaces.
When it comes to secondary school, many girls are forced to drop out in order to look after their families at home or get married. In fact, 42% of girls in the developing world are not enrolled in school, and the majority of illiterate people worldwide are female. Keeping girls in school until they graduate helps them develop valuable skills, earn higher wages and leads to smaller, healthier families. Educated women are far more likely to educate their own children, and thereby break the crippling cycle of illiteracy.
Room to Read’s Girls Education Program supports girls until they graduate by providing both emotional and financial support. The charity provides uniforms and bicycles to girls that live far from school. It also pays for rooms in a boarding house for girls to live closer and take full advantage of school facilities.
Counsellors and mentors help to support girls through their school years, and there are regular meetings for parents where the long term importance of education is emphasised.
As of November 2015, Room to Read established 17,534 libraries, constructed 1, 930 schools, published 1,158 books and distributed an incredible 15,641,734 books. A massive 31,636 girls have participated in the Girls Education Program.
David Sheldrick Wild Life Trust
As we all know, Africa is home to a range of beautiful and fascinating animals including elephants and the black rhino. Unfortunately, these species are in danger of becoming extinct, due to poachers who are after their valuable ivory tusks and horns. To add to their woes, much of the natural habitat of these precious animals has been destroyed due to deforestation.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is an organisation that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned elephants. The charity was started in 1997 by Dr Daphne Sheldrick D. B.E. in honour of her husband, David Sheldrick, a dedicated naturalist and founder of Tsavo East National Park.
The Trust hand-raises elephants and rhinos from their youth, before ultimately releasing them back into the wild.
The process of reintegrating and releasing the elephants is one that can take up to 10 years. Baby elephants rely on their mothers’ milk until they are two years old, which means that orphaned elephants stand little chance of surviving in the wild. The Trust has successfully taken care of over 150 elephants, reintegrating them back into the wild.
Until the Trust and other organisations stepped in, the Black Rhino had been hunted to the verge of extinction. Daphne Sheldrick and her workers have saved the lives of many rhinos, and undertaken valuable conservation work to reverse the trend towards extinction.
Apart from rearing orphaned elephants and rhinos, the Trust is also involved in several other projects to protect Africa’s wildlife. Its other commitments include running a full time Anti-Poaching Unit which patrols the boundaries of the Tsavo Conservation area, protecting animals and plants from hunters and loggers. It also has four mobile veterinary units to treat animals in need of medical assistance.
How can I help?
Giving children an education helps to overcome illiteracy and break the cycle of poverty. Donating to Room to Read allows the team to keep helping impoverished kids at a crucial time in their lives.
And if you are passionate about animal welfare, you may be interested in fostering an orphaned elephant for just $50 a year. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust even provides the opportunity to visit your fostered animal, watching him or her have their midday mud bath and feeding session.