Today is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day and we are taking the opportunity to thank one of our dear supporters and friends, the big and small people at Reader Rabbits Kindergarten and Elementary School.
In 2020, Reader Rabbits, the little Primary School with the huge heart, contributed a staggering 37+ million Tanzanian Shillings to help children in Tanzania survive their cancer diagnosis. Here is a look at our partnership and their incredible support over the years…..
The wonderful Ms Jigna Chandarana is Reader Rabbits Founder and Head Teacher. She first heard about Tumaini La Maisha through Mrs Saira Dewji who was a parent at the school and a board member of Tumaini La Maisha Tanzania. Visiting the Upendo and Tumaini children’s cancer wards ten years ago, Jigna was taken with the spirit of everyone on the wards working around the clock to help the children, as well as the power of volunteers. She rolled up her own sleeves and helped on weekends distributing lunches to the parents and children, making sure that their nutritional needs were met so that they could focus on caring for their child battling cancer.
Jigna then began to think about how her school, a kindergarten at the time, could help. She knew from her time at the hospital that while financial support was needed, there were many other areas of need such as nutritional, cleaning and school supplies etc. where support would be welcome. She consulted with parents in her school and began supporting annually in many ways including the annual Reader Rabbits Christmas Fair. She challenges her students to make or repurpose things they find at home or elsewhere, transforming them into gifts that are then sold at the Fair. The lesson is that we can use what we see around us to make a positive contribution to other people’s lives. The funds raised every year go to supporting children’s cancer services in Tanzania through TLM.
Jigna was also an early supporter of the TLM Kibubu/Piggy Bank Campaign and her students have responded fantastically to the initiative. (Each child is given a little cardboard Kibubu/Piggybank to take home for a month and fill with any loose change or spare cash) while spreading the awareness messages on the outside! She frames the Piggys as a way in which her students, both kindergarten and primary, can learn the skill of saving money, for the purpose of giving. She sees the Piggys as a way to expand the students’ concept of giving, saving, sharing and helping others. She also recognises the importance of incentivisation and rewards as a motivating factor to raise funds. Prizes might be for an individual student, a class group or a group of students and can range from a certificate to a trophy or even a pizza party! The prizes are not only for funds raised but for attention to the awareness element of the Piggy bank campaigns.
Having lost her own grandmother to cancer, and being the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Jigna prioritises the message that childhood cancer can be treated and once treatment is complete the children can go on to live long and happy lives. She remembers a time when cancer was a taboo subject, even within a family unit.
‘It’s important for children to know that cancers can be treated and just because a child has cancer, does not mean that they are going to die. It’s important for children to know that it’s okay to talk about these things. It’s all about education at the end of the day.’
We could not agree more! We are so grateful to the extended Reader Rabbits family. Thank you sincerely every wonderful pupil, every generous parent, every kind staff member and of course the powerhouse of compassion – Ms Jigna Chandarana – What you’ve managed to do is extra-ordinary – your efforts have saved many precious young lives and brought joy and laughter to children on this difficult journey. You Are TLM!
If you are inspired by Jigna and all the Reader Rabbits Community and would like your classroom to get involved in a similar initiative please let us know here
. ‘Curing Kids Cancer in Tanzania – together we can!’