Every year schools and businesses in the UK donate surplus furniture and equipment, books, computers and basically anything that a school can use to our charity. The vast majority of it is in very good condition. In September each year all of it is loaded into a 40’ container by a local carrier and teams of firemen from Oxfordshire’s Fire and Rescue Services.
To date our foundation has succeeded in shipping over 100 x 40’ containers of school furniture, computers, books and curriculum materials to schools in the Eastern Cape.
All of the furniture and equipment, although in good order, had been destined for landfill sites, but was retrieved, packaged and sent to South Africa. Over the years the initiative has been supported by local carriers and by a large number of individuals and other organisations including Oxfordshire County Council who have given of their time and resources willingly and freely to ensure that the furniture and equipment reached its intended target.
The UK shipments have made a huge impact on the schools fortunate enough to receive a part of them.
By far the most interesting feedback received from schools in the Eastern Cape has been the impact the furniture has had on increasing admissions of pupils to schools (one school reported being able to admit 120 extra children because of the furniture we had provided to equip empty classrooms) and on improving pupil behaviour in the classroom (no longer are there angry exchanges at the start of each day between students over who gets to sit on the few chairs).
This project to provide needy schools in South Africa with the recycled furniture is also a win-win situation in environmental terms as all of the furniture and equipment would have been taken to UK landfill sites without our intervention.
Equally there have been benefits economically as we have been able to provide job opportunities to local people to help us unload and store the furniture.
Although all the furniture we receive is free BEFSA has to raise the funds each year to cover the costs of shipping the furniture and equipment to South Africa.