At the end of each month, children at the Grand Fond Primary School in Dominica get very excited. Not because it’s the end of another day at school, but because it marks their shopping day.
This is the day when they take their small paper coins they’ve earned for good behavior throughout the week, and treat themselves to something nice like a pencil case, heart-shaped eraser, or sparkly ruler. For a school that receives minimal funding and is set among underdeveloped communities in Dominica, this rewards system is really a special treat.
Shopping Day coins come with a smiley face, and are earned by good acts like class participation and wearing neatly kept uniforms. The program, known as a Child Friendly school rewards shop, helps students feel appreciated and motivated to learn, and supplies that feed the showcase of goodies is made possible by Pack for a Purpose participants and PfaP partners, 3 Rivers Ecolodge and Rosalie Forest Ecolodge (along with other donors in the community).
Both 3 Rivers and Rosalie Forest Ecolodges have supported the Grand Fond School for over 10 years. And as a result of Pack for a Purpose, visitors to the island have joined forces to donate school supplies, books and more.
We have also received several overseas university groups at the lodge who get involved in projects with the school, including matching funds programs for computers and scholarships, donations of wind energy, and the University of Vermont installed a complete solar panel system at the Grand Fond Preschool next-door to the primary school, explains Jem Winston, managing director at both lodges.
It’s not just visitors staying at the lodge that get involved. On one occasion, a large group of cruise ship passengers learned of Pack for a Purpose and joined forces to contribute boxes of sports clothes.
With all these generous donations, students at Grand Fond have been able to perform well in studies and in sports with greater ease.
It’s a small school; we do some fundraisers, but it’s not enough money to maintain an ample stock of supplies, so we put donations to good use, said Grand Fond School’s principal, Hattie Leslie.
Leslie gives basic school supplies and books to children whose families cannot afford them. She also gives a book to everyone attending the school, which adds up to just under 100 students. Any remaining supplies go into the Shopping Day showcase, which began last year.
Sharing Culture with School Visits
In addition to donations, Grand Fond has received class visits from guests staying at Rosalie Forest and 3 Rivers. As one of our community tourism experiences, we’ve paid the school a small fee to join in the day’s school experience with the children.
When these travelers visit, students are given an opportunity to hear new, exciting things about the world beyond their island. They get excited to learn about culture, geography, and get to meet interesting and new people.
The children don’t always like to interact, but when visitors come, they get very happy and they’ll talk and interact, Mrs. Leslie explains.
She hopes Pack for a Purpose donations and visitations continue. The generosity has been greatly appreciated and has helped motivate students of all grades and given them access to a better education.
The only thing I wish is to be able to thank specific people for their gifts, because that’s something we always do.
Well, Mrs. Leslie, that’s something we can help you do online: To all who have donated and participated at 3 Rivers or Rosalie Forest Ecolodges in Dominica, Principal Hatty Leslie and the students at Grand Fond Preschool and Primary School wish you a very warm, sincere THANKS!
Click here to view a video of a volunteer visiting the Grand Fond Primary School. Courtesy of World Wild Media.