Three young sisters are hard at work on a plan to send 20,000 unneeded bags to the schoolchildren of Zambia, their father’s homeland.
The Mfula girls visit grandparents Pauline and Trevor McAllister of Dubbo so regularly that they’re “almost locals” but they have seen first hand that not everyone enjoys what they have in Australia.
The sisters have set themselves the task of raising $15,000 to ship yellow satchels left over from last year’s Census to rural Zambian students who carry their schoolbooks under their arms.
Malaika, 16, Gabrielle, 14, and Zahra, 11, seized an opportunity to secure the bags through a family connection.
The bags were bound for landfill, which would have cost $15,000, but they were determined the same sum could be raised to give protection to the few school supplies rural Zambians have.
The sisters succeeded in bringing the bags from Melbourne to Sydney and they were yesterday determined to keep going.
They recalled two previous visits to the southern African country with parents James and Shaunagh where their paternal grandparents and many other family members lived and how it motivated them.
“We’ve seen the kids walk with their books under their arms and when it rains they get wet,” Malaika said.
It did not take them long to realise they were “privileged” compared with those in their father’s village, Chipili, and others like it.
“In the villages we would see kids walking carrying water on their heads and then Dad would say, ‘this is your second cousin’,” Malaika said.
While they enjoyed softball, cheerleading and dancing they knew Zambian children have more of a challenge to have fun.
“There are no club sports in Zambia - on the weekend they just go out and kick a ball,” Gabrielle said.
“They have to make their own fun - they use tin cans all over Africa instead of soccer balls.”
The girls have already started work on the School Bags for Zambia project.
They are planning to fundraise at their respective schools in Hornsby and Eastwood by doing cake stalls, mufti days and trivia nights.
So far they have received a positive response to their plans.
“We’re half-Australian, half-Zambian, we have that emotional connection (to the project),” Malaika said.
The steps of the project included purchasing a shipping container, paying shipping costs to Zambia via Durban, South Africa and overland transportation to Lusaka in Zambia, where the satchels will be collected by the Zambian Scouts association and distributed.