Today was the final day of the SKIP initiative to provide the families whom we support with the adequate school supplies and equipment necessary to enable their education. Although the public education system in Peru is theoretically free, children are not allowed to attend without a uniform and the cost of purchasing this can be prohibitive to families living in poverty. This can mean children do not get enrolled in school because the family can't afford to provide what they need.
The children SKIP works with are about to return to school for their new academic year, some are about to start school for the very first time. SKIP supports families by providing new school uniforms and shoes for children in the programme every two years. When families do not correspond to receive a new uniform, we facilitate swaps with other families, if children have outgrown their uniform. This year SKIP was able to cover the costs of these donations to families thanks to a $6,000 grant from Givology.
Providing the uniforms and shoes has been a long process for the team. Children and families are expected to actively engage in our services in order to be eligible for these benefits. At the end of 2016, as we signed contracts with families for the year ahead, the social work team also established what size clothing and shoes the children would need.
The next step for the team was to establish links with the school uniform store in the local market "Mayorista". Thanks to the hard work of the social work team we were able to negotiate a reduced rate for uniforms and shoes due to the amount we would be bulk buying. In total, 147 children would receive one pair of trousers or skirt, one blouse or shirt, and one pair of school shoes.
The next step was for the team to pick the supplies up from the store. The team then brought all the supplies back to SKIP to be checked and then distributed. The families had been invited to arrive at SKIP from 9am to collect their items. From 8am, however, some families were already waiting outside the Community Centre. Families have previously told us about the impact receiving school supplies has on their wellbeing, but it was clear today from the smiles on their faces just how significant it actually is.
"With SKIPs support, my life has improved. I used to feel worried all the time because I didn't know how to make ends meet, and provide the basic stuff to my children." Mother in the SKIP programme, 2016
Statements like this reinforce to us, how important SKIP is and why initiatives such as this are so vital. Huge thanks to Givology for their financial support this year in covering the costs of these donations.