Marblehead Rotary’s Charlie Milner recognizes that education is the pathway to economic mobility and a proven tool for solving global poverty.
For 24 years, Milner and his wife, Toby, have used their nonprofit organization, the Lillydale Literacy Project, to further education in South Africa’s rural communities.
The Milners have come to appreciate how much the learning environment — a roof over their heads, and enough books, pencils, writing pads and other school supplies — influences the quality of children’s education. But 95 million children in sub-Saharan Africa lack a desk to do their school work.
“The lack of basic resources like desks holds learners back from achieving even a basic education,” Milner explained.
Then Milner learned about Tutu Desks.
The late Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu founded the Tutu Desk campaign in 2012 in partnership with the United Nations Special Envoy for Education. Tutu Desks are made from a sturdy, child-friendly blend of polymers and can last a learner’s entire school career. They are both colorful and informative, displaying the alphabet, a multiplication table and a regional map. Finally, the desks’ hole cut-out makes them easy to transport between home and school.
The Tutu Desk Campaign has provided more than 1.5 million desks to disadvantaged African children since its launch.
Since November, Milner’s Lillydale Literacy Project and Marblehead Rotary have raised funds for Tutu Desks. At $20, the cost of a Tutu Desk equates to about four tall lattes at the local coffee shop, Milner noted.
To date, Milner has raised over $15,000, or the equivalent of 750 desks, helping to move the Tutu Desk Campaign closer to its goal of delivering 20 million desks to African children in need by 2025.