Charity Smashes Target to Provide ‘School in Bag’ to Children Displaced by Earthquake

A charity who are sending bags with school and hygiene supplies to children affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has smashed its fundraising target.

Somerset-based charity, School in a Bag, had set a target of £5,000 which would allow them to send 250 bags to the affected schoolchildren, but within a just few weeks the amount raised had reached £20,000 and 1,000 bags.

Chief Executive of School in a Bag, Luke Simon, said it felt “really good” to reach the target.

Each bag contains exercise books, pens and pencils, eating utensils, a hygiene kit, toothbrush and toothpaste, and will be delivered during April, via a logistics company who have offered their services free of charge, to the children in Turney and Syria who are displaced by the quakes.

School in a Bag are partnering with the charity Hand in Hand for Aid and Development (HIHFAD), which has hubs in Turkey and Syria, where thousands of people were killed in the 7.8 magnitude quake that hit both countries on 6 February.

“When children are displaced by either natural disasters or conflict, it’s really important that we try and get children back into the routine of education,” Mr Simon said.

“Education for most people in the world is conducted over a very formal timetable and of course, when you lose your home and school, that routine is fractured.”

Mr Simon said that giving each child a school bag allowed them to carry on with their education, which in turn “generates a routine and gives them some form of normality”.

He empathised will those who have been affected by the tragedy, as Mr Simon’s brother Piers died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on the island of Koh Phi Phi in Thailand while they were on holiday with friends.

He added that said he knew from “first-hand experience” the struggle children who had experienced and witnessed tragedy had in communicating how they felt and their anxieties.

“They can’t do it verbally because they don’t have the vocabulary, and they just don’t feel comfortable talking about it in the same way some adults do.”

However, he said if you gave a child the contents of a school bag, they could write about it and draw things linked to it.

Mr Simon said people had been “very generous”, from the suppliers who provided stock, to the volunteers who came in to help pack the bags and the companies who helped to fund the appeal.