Assistant teacher started a clothing company featuring students' drawings to help them save their school and pay their tuition.
School in the U.S. is often taken for granted, as there is no tuition and teacher salaries are paid for through taxes. Attending school is also mandatory, giving little room for parents to object or find reasons that their child can’t make it.
In Tanzania, the conditions surrounding school are much different. Students have to pay fees to attend, so many do not because they can’t afford it, and many of the schoolhouses are worn down without access to any technology, electricity, or sanitary kitchen areas.
Martin Kluck, a former assistant teacher in Tanzania, was working at a primary school in Tanzania when one of his students, Abigail, drew a cute drawing for him to take home. He printed the drawing onto a shirt to take as a personal souvenir, but it turned into so much more.
After Abigail and another student Vanessa were unable to continue paying their school fees, Kluck came up with the idea to print several more shirts with Abigail’s drawing and sell them. The proceeds would go towards paying for their schooling.
This started back in 2009, and since then the idea has skyrocketed into a full project for two different schools and several children. Kluck started a company called Kipepeo (it means “butterfly” in Kiswahili) Clothing that features the drawings of the children from the schools and sells them, with 10% of the proceeds going towards helping the schools and paying fees for some children.
Since its fruition, Kipepeo Clothing has provided immeasurable aid to the schools. For Mecson Primary School, Kipepeo has sponsored 20 computers and the school’s first computer room, a power line for electricity and Internet access, dozens of graduation shirts for the students, a water pump, plants for the schoolyard, and a new building for a sturdy and sanitary kitchen.
Another school they help out is Utukufu Nursery School, where they have paid for the rent for the entire building and its grounds for the past two years, repainted the building and filled in the holes, sponsored the first ever uniforms for the students, provided their first blackboards and replaced their school benches. The school itself is a part of The Utukufu Project, which is dedicated to supporting parents with HIV/AIDS and their children.
When Kluck first made his own shirt, he never imagined that it would transform into this beautiful project that is “wearable proof that even a child’s pencil drawing can change the world just a little.”
Kipepeo Clothing is still going strong today, with their most recent endeavor being the deliverance of 20 new computers to the children in February. If you are interested in buying a shirt and supporting this great cause, you can do so here.
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