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Make a drawstring backpack for kids in Tanzania

Update 17/08/2018
So far, 570 drawstring backpack have been sewn up and 270 are already in Africa! It's a great result and many people are involved! We also collected a lot of other gifts: pencils, school supplies, clothes, kids underwear, soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste... Because the orginal goal had been achieved now we are sending our backpacks also to other places in Tanzania, Cameroon and Zambia. You are still very welcome to join in our charity project!

This quite detailed post is in a FAQ form, and I invite you to join us and sew a drawstring backpack for kids in Tanzania! Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Photos by S. Wioletta and one by me

1. What is the purpose of the project "Make a drawstring backpack for Kids in Tanzania"?
Our main purpose is to equip children, that are cared by missionaries Sisters of the Saint Elizabeth in Tanzania, with backpacks. It's quite normal for us, to have more than one bag/backpack, but these children usually possess only one often very worn bag. We want to change that!

1a.Can I help even if I don't know how to sew?
Yes you can! Please help us by spreading the news about that project and if you want you can send some small goods - the list is under 4th point.

 2. How many drawstring bags do we need?
Currently, 70 children come for their meals. Our goal is to make ONE (1) drawstring backpack by everyone joining our project,sz and sending it to Tanzania. If you want to make more backpacks you are very welcome but there are some posting restrictions so it is up to you. You can find everything about posting in point 5. I'm also asking for some small items for these kids so you could consider it in you posting decisions.

2.Who is the organizer of this project
I'm the organizer (completely voluntary). My name is Urszula Platek and I'm running this blog since 2010. I'm not a stranger to various help actions for missions like collecting old glasses or post stamps for Africa. My friend Wioletta Pitura is a Sister of the Saint Elisabeth Congregation and she is the reason for starting this project. I known her for nearly 20 years. In February 2018 she started working in Maganzo in Tanzania. When I heard she is going to work in Africa I knew that I will do something to support her and people she will be working with! There is a link to Sisters of the Saint Elisabeth site about their work in Tanzania (in Polish) - CLIK.

3. Will it be permanent project?
No, it is an one off project. I think that it will run to the end of year 2018. I will keep you all updated about it here.

4. What is the additional support that we can send?
I thought that if we will be sewing backpack we can also add some small items to support everyday needs for those children. It's all about light and easy to post things for example:
- new underwear, briefs, socks, T-Shirts for kids from 2 to 18 years (cotton or cotton rich would be the best)
- toothbrushes
- small hand towels (it's because Sisters are going to open nursery in January 2019)
Buying and sending  on these additional goods is only an option. Even one pack of briefs or one toothbrush will be very nice (but you have to consider restrictions mention in the next point.

5. How the backpacks are going to be send and where?
Something that I have learnt about Tanzania's post service and you might not be aware of. Every packet must be below 1 kilogram otherwise the recipient will have to pay a fee in order to collect it. That's why I'm asking you to make only ONE drawstring backapack and optionally if possible add some small item to it. It cannot be a parcel, it has to be a letter in an envelope.

Now for the prices. I have to tell you it's not so bad. 
International Economy Small Parcel up to 1 kg cost 8,55 £. It's slower (max up to 8 weeks) than International Standard Small Parcel that cost 13,35 £ (and takes around 2 weeks) but it's not all about the time.To find measurement's requirements please check Royal Mail website or send me an e-mail.

I didn't check other countries but you know your countries postal services better than I. Just remember to fit in the envelope and maximum up to 1 kilogram please!

Address: please contact me via email  
I will pass on to you the address and we will make arrangements about sending and marking our letters to check when they will arrive at their destination.

6. How to make a drawstring backpack?

There are a lot of tutorials but I chose few. I read many tutorials just to get the idea how to sew it easier. The simplest backpack will be without the lining when you use thicker fabric. With thinner fabrics, the lining can be very useful.

Fabrics: I chose some thicker fabrics, like denim or upholstery fabrics. It's plain coloured so I will be adding a wide stripe of fabric with children's motifs to jazz it up. I think quilting fabric is too thin for backpack purposes.

Pull string: the best will be cotton string/cord. Mine is 8mm thick but I read that 1 cm diameter should be better. It's because we don't want the children to get abrasions on their skin from it.

Diameters: for older kids around 10-18 years it will be about 40 centimetres high and 36-38 cm wide, for younger 35x35cm. I made my prototype drawstring backpack with added drawstring casing. I think the best length for string/cord is 2 times 1,60 centimetres.

Tutorials (clik on links below):

7. Formal issues
If you have any concerns or questions please write me on e-mail

You can use hashtags #backpackForKidsTanzania on Facebook, Instagram etc

There is an Facebook group for our project, it's bilingual (Polish and English), you are very welcome to join it HERE-CLICK

I hope that project is transparent in all ways. I ask you to keep the rules about sending letters (envelope and max to 1 kg). Sending to Africa always means it can be lost somewhere on it's way. I'm not responsible for that. Sisters are not going to confirm letter's delivery (at least not up to date).
That project isn't connected with the religion but with children that are cared by the Sisters of the St Elisabeth.

In the worst scenario I will make 70 drawstring backpacks by myself (I'm only joking) but I believe you have big hearts and you will help me to change the idea to an act!
You are very welcome to share that on your Facebook, Instagram.

I hope I will be able to say thank you to everyone who will participate!

Thank you!

P.S. It's my first drawstring backpack for that project



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