2015.02.27 Naoko Hirasawa
In Japan, the graduation season is right around the corner. Japanese elementary students have special school bags, which they will no longer need when they start attending junior high schools. These bags are packed full of 6 years of memories. But what did you do with yours after you graduated?
Since 2004, the NGO JOICFP, which protects the rights of pregnant women and women in general in developing countries, has begun to accept donations of these memorable school bags. Once again this year, you can donate your school bags from March 10 to May 31.
The donated school bags will be sent mainly to Afghanistan and used to promote education of children, especially girls, who do not have access to education.
Afghanistan suffered from internal conflict for 23 years, until 2001. Many schools were destroyed during the war, and they do not have enough teachers, so many children are still not receiving education. Because the Taliban had banned education for girls, 87% of girls over 15 years of age cannot read or write. Moreover, many girls get married as young as 12, 13, bear children and some even lose their lives during childbirth (Afghanistan has the highest maternal death in childbirth). If girls could learn to read and write, they will be able to read information about health and hygiene, and better protect themselves and their children.
The school bags are unique in shape and color in Afghanistan, so they soon became a symbol of this movement, of children who received donations and began going to school. Even parents who weren't very open to their children attending school at first began to want their children to go to school with those bags. Receiving these school bags opens the door to education for many children. These school bags may have reached the end of their usefulness in Japan, but they can provide a great opportunity for change to the children of Afghanistan.
In 11 years, from 2004 to 2014, 143,701 bags have been donated to Afghanistan. But there are still many children who are waiting for school bags. If you have school bags that are lying dormant in your closet, why not send them in and help children in Afghanistan go to school.
*When donating school bags, please also pay for the international shipping fee of 1,800 yen.
*You can also include school supplies with the bags (please only send brand new supplies. For a list of supplies you can send, click here).
*You can also just donate school supplies. Please click here for details.
*For religious reasons we cannot donate bags made out of pigskin. Click here for ways to check to see if your bag is made of pigskin.