Chikumbuso is an alternative type of school. We do several things a bit differently from other schools. We feed the kids everyday. We give out clothes generously donated and worn proudly in the place of school uniforms. And the other thing we do is provide supplies to all the kids. There is no way they could afford them otherwise.
Gertrude and Linda consulted over what we'd need for the year. They counted all the supplies we'd received from visitors and determined what we needed for the Chikumbuso students and also for the Grade 7 and above students. I looked at the list and thought, Hmmm... 2420 softs books, 540 hard books... that's a lot of books. And that's just the writing books.
Gertrude and I set off to Shoprite. We'd done some early pricing on items and had a plan for going to each store that offered the best prices. Fortunately, we had three interns with us, eager to help in the shopping.
We bought our first round with the help of Shoprite employees and the girls running around the store gathering items from our list. As Gertrude and I stood in the aisle, moving aside from all the other parents doing their early shopping, while we were trying to count the books up to 2420, I realized - No one does this. No one comes to Shoprite to buy 2420 soft books along with a multitude of other items. At our first checkout, we had five carts. The checkout girls looked at us like we couldn't possibly be serious. We returned three times that day with similar results.
Ultimately everyone was really helpful and what was really interesting is that all the stockboys that helped us - knew about us the minute we told them we were from Chikumbuso. One boy was from Ng'ombe and was thanking us for helping the compound. Gertrude and I met with one of the managers about next year's order - we'll do it in advance so they'll have it all ready for us. I think we just weren't really thinking about how big the school has gotten. After all, we were buying for 388 students.