One Bag's Journey
At some point, in the City of Bedford, Texas, a person called Sydney S. received a neon-green backpack. Like most people who get free promotional backpacks, Sydney S. probably used it for a little while, at least enough to write his or her name on it, and then moved on to something new or different. If you have ever run a 5k, been to a blood drive, or attended community event sponsored by a radio station/bank/politician there is a chance you have received a bag like Sydney S.’s.
But what happened once Sydney S. didn’t want the bag anymore?
Well, the neon-green bag, along with pounds and pounds of clothes, shoes, backpacks, and other items that are donated to Goodwill, clothes drives, and dropped off at thrift shops, eventually found its way to Liberia.
Last week, the More than Me team woke up early, went to the West Point Women’s office, and packed 100 backpacks with notebooks, pencils, pens, pencil sharpeners, underwear, socks, and crayons.
Packing the bags was as entertaining as it was invigorating; each bag seemed to have its own story, and each one of our girls was starting a new chapter in that tale.
Word travels fast in West Point: by the time we were ready to meet with our 100 girls and take some last minute information (we had already conducted a more thorough survey with the children and their parents or guardians), the street outside the West Point Women’s office was teeming with children and adults. People began selling goods in front of the office hoping to cash in on the sudden crowd, and not even a brief rain stopped people from showing up.
We brought the girls in by twos, to avoid a backpack bumrush, and let them pick their own bags. 100 girls, 100 bags, and 100 different tastes and styles. Some girls went for the big, pink bags with pictures of Disney characters; others went for the old bags sporting logos for teams they likely had never heard of . And one of our girls, Bendu, dug through the pile and picked up a neon green bag from Bedford, Texas.
Forgotten items are building futures in West Point. Sydney S. probably never imagined that the free neon-green bag he or she had all those years ago would now be proudly worn every day by a girl going to school for the first time. Now, Bendu and the other 100 girls are equipped to not just attend school, but participate, take notes, and contribute.
More than Me loves to promote the fact that we are an organization of people coming together, with whatever skills we might have, to change lives. Sometimes, though, people are helping without even realizing it.
Last week, in West Point, Monrovia, a girl named Bendu received a neon-green bag that used to belong to someone named Sydney S. in Bedford, Texas. This is just the beginning of Bendu’s story.
"One day I went for a walk with Liberian friends in a slum called West Point. I met an 8-year-old girl named Regina, who slept on a cement floor in a room infested with rats. Regina's dad had been killed in the civil war and Regina and her mom were struggling simply to survive." - Katie Meyler
More than Me was formed organically as a means to continue helping these children and many more get to school! Often when talking to children in countries where there is not free education for all, children tell me that their biggest dream is just to go to school. I do not think that is too much to ask. So their dream has become our mission.