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How a woman's love for travel became a charity for out-of-school children

A United Nations report reveals that in the year 2000, an estimated 98.7 million children of primary school age were out of school worldwide. In 2013, that number was down to 59.3 million, still an alarming statistic.

That's why Pencils for All has been promoting education in over 20 countries, both through small initiatives, like donating school supplies, and bigger, more long-term projects.

Founder and Chairwoman, Pencils For All
“In Bangladesh, we managed to buy some furniture and educational toys for primary class in the primary school. In Ethiopia, we built school toilets, and obviously in South Sudan, school playgrounds.”

One of these playgrounds is at CECE primary school, in Nimule, a city on the border with Uganda. The school provides free education to the poorest children, mainly orphans or children from families affected by AIDS.

Founder and Chairwoman, Pencils fFr All
“When I went there with suitcases full of school resources, games and wooden blocks, and obviously crayons, the children were absolutely delighted, and some of them had never ever played with those toys before.”

Since its beginning in 2011, Pencils For All has expanded beyond crayons and toys, even providing soccer uniforms to students in places like Bangladesh. The charity's founder, Iwona Macałka, says she enjoys collaborating with the Missionaries of Charity to carry out her projects.

Founder and Chairwoman, Pencils For All
“I'm a Christian. I'm Catholic, and I know that by giving, we gain even more, and as I've said, I've got this passion and love of traveling, and I just don't want to travel just for the sake of traveling. I want to have a different meaning of it, so volunteering just comes so beautifully with it.”

Iwona says the beauty of her work is in discovering the world as it truly is; sharing in the daily experiences of people from different cultures; and reaching places unexplored by tourists and travel books.

Information on how to make donations to the charity can be found on its website: pencilsforall.org/donate/