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Room to Read During COVID-19

Room to Read India - boy reading bookRaven Supply works with a number of local and international organizations to support the wellbeing of our communities and raise awareness of initiatives that are important to us. This includes our work with the global education non-profit Room to Read, whom we donate a portion of our profits to each year.

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, we were saddened to learn that over 1.5 billion children and youth are out of school, including vulnerable children in the 16 countries in which Room to Read operates. Girls are especially at risk; with local and nationwide school closures, many girls have dropped out of school and gotten married.

Room to Read Cambodia - girl holding school booksRoom to Read is supporting children in continuing their studies, by adopting new ways of delivering education. Classes and life skills workshops are being broadcasted through radio and TV in areas without internet, print materials and worksheets are being distributed to local communities, and book supply chains have been expanded to reach children who cannot visit libraries.

For those with access to the internet, Room to Read has launched a free online learning platform, digitizing 900 book titles and read-aloud videos for all levels and in up to 12 languages. It also houses a plethora of resources for teachers, book creators, publishers and governments.

Room to Read Nepal - girl reading by treeWithin the Girls’ Education Program, girls are now receiving phone support and mentoring. An early warning system has also been revised, which helps local staff to identify girls whom are at risk of dropping out of school early.

Lastly, through remote training and workshops, Room to Read is continuing to provide professional development to local teachers and authors and illustrators.

Many of these new paths to learning have been fast tracked but will continue to benefit childhood literacy and education for years to come. They are enabling us to reach even more children, including those whose access to education is restricted by weather or location.

Room to Read Vietnam - teacher writing on chalk boardRaven Supply is committed to our goal of raising $20,000 for Room to Read this year, to provide 50 scholarships to girls in Vietnam. For every discount that we receive from a vendor, and every contribution made by a customer, we are matching it with an equal donation. Thus far, we have raised over $13,574 and no doubt together, we can reach our goal by end of year.

You can learn more about our work with Room to Read here.

Tony Pregal Races for Raven Supply and Room to Read

Since 2017, Raven Supply has been sponsoring race car driver Tony Pregal, who races car #99 in the Sports Car Club of British Columbia (SCCBC). In 2019, Tony ranked first in his class in the Grand Touring Modified Under 4.0, and third in the overall SCCBC Club Championship standings.

Tony races at the Mission Raceway Park road course, which the SCCBC calls home, in a very special car. A Hurricane Katrina rescue, his BMW300i traveled all the way to British Columbia, where it was stripped and transformed into a race car.

Today, this rescued car proudly sports the logos of both Raven Supply and Room to Read, the literacy non-profit we support with the generous help of our vendors. For every discount we receive from a vendor, we match the amount with a donation to Room to Read. Our fundraising goal this year is $30,000 to send 50 girls in Vietnam to school for a year. Tony also supports Raven’s Room to Read projects.

Tony Pregal's BMW300i sponsorship decals

Room to Read creates world change by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Over 18 million children and counting have benefited from Room to Read’s achievements, which include establishing libraries, publishing local language children’s books and running a Girls’ Education Program.

In addition to race car driver and literacy advocate, Tony is talented in more ways than one. Did you know he is also a certified technician for Fulton Boilers? Off the track, he is our go to person when we need technical support for our Fulton products.

Racer or technician, we are proud to be sponsoring Tony. Join us in cheering him on from the stands as he races to win and to support literacy!

A New Year and A New Opportunity for Global Literacy

Schoolgirls at a Room to Read project in Vietnam. Photo credit: Room to Read

The New Year is always a time for reflection and setting new goals. This year, for 2020, we are setting our sights on building on the momentum of years’ past and do even more to support Room to Read.

Room to Read is an international NGO that promotes literacy in the developing world. The organization’s multi-pronged approach includes opening up school libraries, providing teacher training, publishing in language children’s books, and running community-lead interventions designed to keep young women in school and out of child marriage.

Every year, we pick one Room to Read project country to support. We make it easy for our community of vendors and customers to join in these efforts through matching donation drives and other initiatives. Last year, we hit a major fundraising milestone, with a grand total of $200,000 being raised since 2013 for Room to Read’s projects in 16 countries around the world.

This year, we’ve decided to centre our efforts on raising enough to send 50 girls to school in Vietnam. At one time, Vietnam was considered one of the poorest countries in the world. Today, this country in South East Asia is in a period of growth and development, but with this growth comes a widening gap between children who can afford to attend school and children who can’t.

Photo Credit: Room to Read Vietnam

In 2020, we’re aiming to raise $20,000 towards school scholarships to allow 50 young Vietnamese women to make the most of their changing economy.

Our Inside Sales Engineer Merinda Widmer lead us in the decision to support Room to Read Vietnam because of the organization’s excellent track record in the country. In 2015, Room to Read successfully influenced advances in the country’s national education policy. Last year, Room to Read partnered with Vietnam’s Ministry of Education to launch a targeted program to build and stock school libraries in the country. Room to Read also continues to train local social mobilizers that support girls and young women in low-income areas through life skills training and other programs designed to keep them in school.

Merinda will go to Vietnam in 2021 to see our fundraising efforts in action. Stay tuned for more exciting updates on how you can join us in making sure that children around the world have the reading skills they need to succeed!

Linna Luu’s Trip to Room to Read Tanzania

In 2018, Raven Supply raised $24,000 to fund 60 scholarships for girls in Tanzania participating in Room to Read’s Girls Education program. But while fundraising is very important, we believe that supporting an organization in full means meeting the people powering these projects first hand.

Linna with Room to Read staff in Tanzania.

Each year, we send one of our team members to visit one of Room to Read’s projects in the developing world. This year, Project Engineer Linna Luu hopped on a plane and headed to Tanzania to meet the teachers, families, and students participating in the Girls Education program there.

During her trip, Linna had the opportunity to visit two Room to Read schools- one in Kibaha and one in Kongowe. At every turn, Linna was welcomed by school management and teachers, who spoke highly of the progress they’ve witnessed in students that participate in the Girls Education program.

“The Room to Read staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. They were able to answer any questions I had about the program and the schools that we visited,” Linna remarks. “They were also very patient in providing translations for me while the classes were in session. They all care very much about the work they do with Room to Read.”

“I saw a library that was funding through Room to Read’s literacy program. The colourful decor within the library definitely made it feel welcoming!

Linna with Girls Education program participants

” She smiles, adding that the schools were larger than she expected, with multiple buildings and large outdoor play areas.

“The girls were all eager to participate in class, in contrast to my experience with school in Canada where the majority of my classmates rarely raised their hands,” she adds. “Additionally, they were awesome public speakers and killed the presentations and role play acts that were completed during class.”

Another special moment of Linna’s trip came in the form of a conversation she had with a mother whose daughter is enrolled in the Girls Education program.

“I spoke to a mother who was very appreciative of the work Room to Read does,” she recalls. “It was obvious she was proud of her own involvement with the program. Not surprising, as Room to Read’s success relies on support from the local communities.”

Linna with the Room to Read Tanzania team.

Speaking of community, Raven Supply is so grateful for our community of vendors and customers here in Greater Vancouver that make it possible for us to donate to Room to Read time and time again. Whenever we receive a donation, we match it dollar for dollar, and it adds up fast- to date, we’ve contributed over $170,000 to projects in India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia and Tanzania.

Raven Supply gave our first donation to Room to Read in 2013. We picked this organization due to their impressive financials and their focus on educating disadvantaged children around the world. To date, we’ve contributed over $170,000 to projects in India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia and Tanzania. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our Raven Supply community- thanks for everything!

Raven Supply Aims Its Sights High on Fundraising Efforts for Room To Read Nepal in 2019

Female Nepalese students study at a Room to Read school

At Raven Supply, we’re excited to gear up into another year of fundraising for the outstanding literacy non-profit Room to Read.

Last year, thanks to the support of our customers and vendors, we surpassed our original fundraising goal of $20,000, reaching a total of $24,000 raised, bringing our total amount raised for Room to Read since 2013 to $170,000.

This year, we have our sights set on raising another $30,000 to provide 75 Nepalese girls with scholarships through Room to Read Nepal. Today the charity’s Literacy and Girls’ Education Programs in Nepal continue to make a tangible mark on the educational well-being of Nepali children, although there are still many challenges.

Nepal is a small, landlocked country wrought with political instability and widespread poverty. About 40% of students drop out before finishing the primary grades, and a third of children aged 5 to 14 work instead of attending school. Additionally, the 2015 Nepal earthquake destroyed school buildings across the country, leaving one million students without a place to learn.

Plaque on Room to Read School in Nepal mentioning the support of Raven Supply and its valued suppliers.

Young girls in Nepal face additional barriers to their education because they’re at a greater risk of dropping out due to financial limitations of families and the pressure to marry early. 40% of girls will marry before 18, and this is one reason that the country’s female population is 22% less likely to be literate than their male counterparts.

The only organization in Nepal that focuses solely on literacy and gender equality in education, the Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program has supported nearly 5,000 girls since 2001. The charity has piloted an early warning system to identify students in the program who are at risk of dropping out, allowing for early intervention and support. Early detection allows for social mobilizers in Nepal to visit these girls at home, mentor them, and tutor them on the content of missed classes.

So far, over $2000 has already been raised in 2019 between Raven Supply and our community of customers and vendors for Room to Read Nepal. We couldn’t do it without you!

Room to Read students host visitors at their school in Nepal.

That’s why we love sharing updates and news about just how many scholarships have been raised out personalized thank you letters to our customer and vendor supporters. Additionally, Megan Davies here at Raven Supply will visit the Room to Read Nepal project this year to take photos and report back on all the outstanding work happening there, and we’ll sure to keep you updated here.

A Year of Giving, and Why We Support Room to Read

Primary school students at a Room to Read school in Chalinze, Tanzania.

Raven Supply is thrilled to announce that this year, we raised $24,000 for literacy charity Room to Read thanks to the generous support of our customers and vendors.

These funds exceeded our initial goal of $20,000, and will be used to send 60 girls to school in developing countries around the world. Not only will this have a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of these girls, but this education will give them the tools to lift themselves out of poverty, contribute financially to their families, and avoid early marriages. According to the World Health Organization, for each year a girl attends school, her future earnings increase by 11%.

Throughout 2018, Raven Supply offered our vendors the chance to join us in supporting Room to Read. They have more than stepped up to this challenge by providing regular discounts on final invoicing prices for goods and services.  We took these savings and rolled them directly into these fundraising efforts. Not only that, but our remarkable community of customers made donations in many sizes, and we couldn’t help but to be inspired to match these contributions dollar for dollar.

Raven Supply has supported the work of Room to Read since 2013. This exceptional charity supports children’s literacy in 16 countries including India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Tanzania. Room to Read’s data informed approach to literacy programming includes opening school libraries, producing in-language children’s books, funding student scholarships and uniforms, and giving local young people leadership training so that they can advocate for girls’ education in their communities.

Students run to class at a Room to Read school in Mindutulieni, Tanzania.

In May 2019, our Project Engineer Linna Luu will travel to Tanzania to see Room to Read in action. During her trip she’ll spend time at a Room to Read school and get to know some of the girls participating in literacy and leadership programs there. We will be sure to share the story of her incredible trip here on our blog.

To date, with your support, Raven Supply has contributed over $170,000 to Room to Read projects. We sincerely thank you for your generosity, and look forward to announcing our 2019 fundraising efforts soon!

Happy New Year!

 

The 9 Year old Girl who Started her own Library.

Room To Read recently tracked down Muskaan Ahirwar, a third-standard student who started her own library called “Bal Pustakalaya” meaning Children’s Library in a small slum in Bhopal, India.

This motivated young woman opens up Bal Pastakalaya every day after school where she has dozens of children come by from a nearby low-income neighborhood and listen to her read.

This is yet another moving story on how education can change the lives of many children in the developing parts of the world. Also showing the importance of Room to Reads’ “Girls Education Program”. Muskaan is pictured with a smile on her face, very proud of her accomplishments.

This Library is located nearby Ravens 2015 project of providing 50 girls with a 1-year scholarship as well as a library.

Check out the whole article from Buzz Feed here.

Bal’s Trip to India

In February, my husband Kal and I took off to India to visit the site of our 2015 Room to Read project at Mandal Parishad Primary School in the village of Mudigonda. The school is located 90KM from the main city of Hyderabad in southern India. It took us about 2 hours to get to the school. Raven fundraised to refurbish a library and provide 50 girls scholarships.

We were welcomed by the principal, teachers, students, the village chief along with other members of the community and parents. Our visit was approximately 3 hours long. We joined in both the preschool and elementary classes. The school also provides a community support program for new and expectant mothers on one side of the school. They also have a cook to provide lunch for students as well.

The teachers seem well-trained. They were very proud of their students and their school. They use different teaching methods, such as point systems for different levels of books, acting out books, singing and drawing. Along with teaching in their local tongue – Telugu – English is taught as well.

With the help of translation from Room to Read representatives interacting with the students was my favourite part of the trip. They were a little shy at first but soon opened up. I asked some of the students what they wanted to be when they grow up, all of the girls I asked answered teachers while the boys said doctors and police officers. They were very curious to hear about my life in Canada and about my children. We were taking pictures and making small videos during the visit and when I showed them some of their pictures,  they were so excited and mesmerized to see their own faces.

The hardest part of the visit was to witness the poverty and lack of learning materials, even with Room to Read’s help. The biggest problem I thought was the lack of reading material for different ages. For example, children for grade 1 to 3 will be offered the same books, so for 3 years the child will be reading the same material. There is a potential for the young children to fall behind because of the challenging material or older children in the group to lose interest in reading the same books over the years.

It was nice to see how much a library filled with books has made such a big difference in these children’s lives. The children were very proud to show off their library and to read some of the books out loud to us. They know this is what sets them apart from the rest of the schools around them. The Library has 2 monitors that will go to the children’s house to retrieve a book if it is not returned on time.

I left the school feeling proud and happy be part of the Room to Read program and very grateful to go and experience the difference we are making for children, their families, and their community.

We stayed a few extra days in Hyderabad and explored the city and toured the museums and ancient forts. Apparently Hyderabad is new with upcoming IT hub in India. This region is famous for manufacturing granite and is also known as the City of Pearls. A piece of granite was too heavy to bring back so I went for the pearls.

Meeting with Chief Innovation Officer

Today, Brian and Ashley traveled to the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver to meet with Cory Heyman Ph.D. (Chief Innovation Officer, Executive Director, and Room to Read Accelerator) & Sharon Davis (Vancouver Room to Read Chapter). Cory was in Vancouver for an Education Conference in which he was speaking. We met with him for a breakfast meeting and learned all about involvement in Room to Read and their plans for the future to ensure that even more children in the developing world have access to quality education in the future.

From left to right: Ashley, Brian, Cory, Sharon.