The ‘School Bag Programme’ has been launched for the eighth consecutive year by the Al Naser Sport Team, in coordination with the Bahla Charity Team. It is a charitable project in which the schools will provide school bags to Grades 1 to 12 students from low-income families in Bahla. It’s one of the first societal volunteer projects in the country. “In the last seven years, the School Bag Programme has helped increase cooperation between the community for helping the poor and the needy families,” said Ahmed bin Mohammed al Riyami, Head of Al Naser Sport Team.
According to him, Al Naser Sport Team and Bahla Charity Team seek to promote social values in Omani society. Khalid bin Nasser al Wardi, Head of Bahla Charity Team, said: “The partnership between Al Naser Bahla Sport Team and Bahla Charity Team is very important for encouraging voluntary work in Bahla.”
Bahla Charity Team is responsible for official charitable programmes in Bahla, he said.
Al Wardi said the Bahla Charity Team was pleased to back charitable programmes being adopted by different charity teams in Bahla.
The Bahla Charity Team also provides guidance and logistic support to these teams. Al Wardi said: “We take financial responsibility for charitable and voluntary projects as they are well-known in our society.”
Rashid bin Saeed Huthaili, Head of the Programme, said: “The project was started in 2010-11 by providing integrated school bags for Grades 1 to 12 students. It targeted the poor and needy students living in the area that Al Naser Team founded. It provided 40 bags that year.”
In the following year, the figure rose to 150 and the programme spread to new areas around Bahla.
Al Huthaili said in the third year, the project’s supervisors decided to change the distribution pattern. Instead of school bags, they were issued ‘shopping cards’. The purchase was from the participating libraries. Reason: saving time and effort; providing students with an opportunity to buy what they want; ease of distribution; getting the advantages of libraries that supported the project.
Contributions for the project increased significantly. The media played a key role by covering activities and spreading importance of such a project. As a result, the project benefited 800 students within three years. According to Al Huthaili, in the fourth year, the organisers constituted an independent commission for the project.
They established a private page on Facebook called School Bag Project. In order to spread benefits of the programme, they chose representatives for new areas. That year, 1,200 students benefited from it.
“In the fifth year, organisers addressed large enterprises and the media for covering expenses of the programme,” said Al Huthaili.
The project tasted success and it was featured on the Sultanate of Oman Radio several times.
The School Bag Programme became well-known throughout the country, which led to other regions borrowing the idea and launching similar projects.
In 2015, organisers took an important step by registering the project with the Ministry of Social Development in cooperation with Bahla Charity Team. A total of 2,200 students benefited in Bahla.
The number of libraries and stationery stores backing the project also increased that year.
Individuals and institutions too extended support.
Musa bin Abdullah al Humami, Head of the media committee of the programme, said: “The media has a prominent role to play in raising community awareness. Newspapers, radio and television helped the organisers to achieve success.”
The media committee has also launched the project’s website. Some members of the project were involved in workshops that assisted them in voluntary work.
Hammam Al Badi