ORAP was USACF’s first partner in Africa. ORAP and USACF have been collaborating on school development projects in four Zimbabwean provinces since 2003. Our partnership has played a pivotal role in the provision of resources to more than 290 schools in Zimbabwe where more than 190,000 pupils have benefited. USACF has shipped 21 of its 40-foot containers to Zimbabwe full of library books, textbooks, school supplies, sports equipment, clothing, toys, games, blackboards, and other needed materials. ORAP staff break down the shipments and do the crucial work of ensuring that the right materials are distributed to schools with matching needs.
Working with ORAP volunteers, USACF’s Caring Carpenters project has also repaired more than 10,000 units of school furniture. Schools have been painted, teacher wardrobes constructed, and for the first time, with USACF’s help, there are classrooms in rural schools where every student sits at his or her own desk.
When USACF expanded into Ghana, it found an amazing partner in NPCT. USACF shipped its first container to Ghana in 2009, and its seventh in 2017. NPCT operates out of Accra and supports 30 schools in the Greater Accra Metropolis.
In the first years of our work in Ghana none of its partner schools would allow students to take library books home. The books were seen as too precious, and schools feared the books would not be returned. After USACF and NPCT promised to replace any missing books by twice the lost amount, the policy was changed. Now any visitor can walk into a class in a partner school and ask, “Please show me your books!” and students will immediately reach into their backpacks, take out a book and hold it high over their head. The program has had an enormously postive impact and continues to expand.
USACF’s second partner in Ghana is The Mothers of Africa. TMOA is responsible for receiving USACF’s shipments and distributing their contents. They support the education of students in 36 schools on the outskirts of Accra. Several of the officials of TMOA are librarians, and TMOA schools have some of the best libraries in USACF’s program. TMOA charts the books their students read and track their reading progress. The USACF-TMOA supported libraries are large with reading desks and chairs, are all well organized, and are heavily utilized. Together with TMOA we are working on a new initiative to support libraries in Accra’s main prison and to expand into very underdeveloped inland regions.
Right to Play is a global organization, using the transformative power of play to educate and empower children and youth. Through playing sports and games, it teaches children essential life skills that will help them overcome the effects of poverty, conflict, and disease so that they can create better futures and drive lasting social change in their communities and beyond.
In each shipment to Ghana, USACF includes soccer balls for Right to Play volunteers. Right to Play runs a remarkable program that engages students in sports, learning, and reading.
Ubank is the bank of the miners of Eastern Cape and was created by National Union of Mineworkers and the South African Chamber of Mines. Ubank and its Teba Trust unit are USACF’s working partners in the province of Eastern Cape. They receive and distribute the contents of the containers. In 2018 USACF sent our sixth container to South Africa. USACF also provides Ubank with soccer balls in partnership the One World Play Project. Ubank has set up a regional soccer tournament for its secondary schools that runs every August.
Ubank is also working with another USACF partner, MIT, to design and build environmental sound and cost efficient classroom blocks. Ubank has already been instrumental in building several classrooms.
Ubank supports our Bridge Project which has established e-learning centers in pilot projects in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. Working with Ubank we are planning to expand the project in later this year.
Zimkids provides more than 300 at-risk children in Bulawayo and outlying areas with educational opportunities, skills training, medical care, food, and recreational activities. USACF and Zimkids have been working together since 2011. USACF ships all donations Zimkids collects in the United States to its headquarters in Bulawayo.
Because Zimkids has such an extraordinary computer program it is the site of the first of USACF’s Bridge Project e-learning centers. Zimkids students and staff are being trained to bring the Bridge Project to additional rural schools later this year.
Super Soccer Stars’ goal is to teach soccer skills in a fun, non-competitive, educational environment. Its philosophy is to use soccer to nurture, to build self-confidence, and to develop teamwork in every class. USACF and SSS have been in partnership since 2011. A partnership which started simply with donations of T-shirts, balls, and soccer equipment has expanded into something quite amazing.
Since 2011, Super Soccer Stars has been sending up to four coaches to rural Zimbabwe every June to run 8-day soccer clinics for teachers and students. Each year more than 35 teachers are trained and certified. USACF and ORAP work with the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZiFA) to develop the program and run an annual soccer tournament that involves 16 teams. The soccer instruction these teachers receive will influence the lives of the 15,000 children they teach every day.
Knowing that children will shape and decide the future, Sharing to Learn creates learning experiences and cultural exchanges with communities around the globe. Through global education, it creates a forum for children around the world to be part of the solution to poverty. Sharing to Learn supports the educational needs of children in 3 preschools, 3 primary schools, and 1 high school, and assists more than 4,000 students.
Sharing to Learn has received hundreds of boxes of donations from USACF for distribution at schools in Eastern Cape.
Overcrowded classrooms are a very serious problem throughout rural Africa. Schools simply do not have the funds to repair collapsing roofs or to build new classroom blocks. Sometimes 80 to 100 students are squeezed into single classrooms. It is difficult to learn when six students share a single desk, lighting is poor and the rooms are overheated.
It was with these problems in mind that USACF turned to two architectural professors at MIT, Les Norford and John Ochensdorf, for help. Les and John agreed to let their graduate students tackle the problem of overcrowding. For the next two years, their students worked to produce designs for new classroom blocks that were environmentally friendly and cost effective to build. Four of their students visited potential building sites in Eastern Cape and Makuleke. The project yielded a 60 page design concept book. USACF is now looking for funding sources to build the first of these classroom blocks in Eastern Cape, South Africa.
USACF has distributed over 17,000 of One World Play Project’s special soccer balls. These balls have a foam core and do not inflate or deflate; they are very durable and perfect for the rural African communities USACF serves. The balls have been in 8 different USACF shipments to Ghana and South Africa.
USACF receives the majority of its donations from schools in the New York City area. Not only do these schools provide USACF with their excess library books, textbooks, schools supplies, sports equipment, blackboards and other useful items, but they invite USACF into their schools to do presentations to their students. During the 40-minute presentation students learn the difficulties African children face every day in the quest for a decent education. American students are empowered to help. Over a two week period, students will bring in their own children’s books, school supplies, toys, games, shoes, clothing, sports equipment and clothing. It is not uncommon for a donation drive to produce more than 100 boxes of donations.
USACF is dependent on area Key Clubs for the manpower needed to send its containers to Africa. Key Clubs are the high school service arm of Kiwanis Clubs. Every Key Club is sponsored by a local Kiwanis Club. USACF specifically works with Key Clubs in Abraham Lincoln, Midwood, Brooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant and Xaverian high schools. When a storage container in Greenpoint, Brooklyn is full, and its contents ready to be shipped, between 20 and 30 student volunteers transfer the donations from a storage container into a waiting 40-foot seagoing container. It takes approximately three hours to transfer. Key Club students also repack and reorganize hundreds of boxes of donations every year.
The Book Fairies collects reading materials for people in need to foster literacy and academic success, and to nurture a love of reading. In 2013, Book Fairies expanded their program to provide books for children in Africa. Once every two months, USACF collects more than 100 boxes of quality books from the Book Fairies.
Wonderland Book Savers is dedicated to promoting global literacy by spreading the joy of reading. It redistributes quality literature to children who would otherwise lack access to books. USACF started partnering with WBS in 2012. Several times a year USACF WBS provides more than 100 boxes of books, shoes and clothing.
Books for Africa has shipped hundreds of containers of books to Africa. USACF works with Books for Africa and other New York City area organizations to transport donations to Africa efficiently and directly. Books for Africa helps to underwrite some of USACF shipment costs.
Each year Goldman Sachs sends 30 of its volunteers to USACF’s container site in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. After a cup of coffee and a muffin, they roll up their sleeves and start loading boxes. They have helped send 5 of USACF’s containers to Africa.
Loading a 40-foot shipping contain with donated materials requires over 1,000 boxes. The Danbury Square Box Company has come to USACF’s rescue. They have donated thousands of boxes of all sizes. They are a fabulous partner and provide crucial support to USACF’s ongoing work getting donations to schools in Africa.
Many children in Africa cannot play sports because the only clothing they own is their school uniform and they are afraid to play sports because they might damage it. The Manhattan Downtown Soccer League and five lower Manhattan elementary schools run an annual soccer uniform drive that collects more than 700 uniforms which USACF partners distribute in Ghana and Zimbabwe.