Single mom here!

Raising 5 children on my own, while putting myself through university; I was keenly aware of how, though my children attended a “publically funded” school, the extra school fees just about sank us year after year.

First there was the $50 registration fee for each child, each year, not due in September when I got my OSAP funding, but due at the end of the school year in May—when my grants and loans had all but dried up.

Sure, I could have held off and paid the fees late in September, but not without significant penality. With three children at this high school I was looking at $150 in May, and by September that fee would be well over $200, and my kids would not be guaranteed the classes they needed.

Then there were the school sports fees: $90 for basketball (played by two of my girls), $200 for football, $70 for volleyball (again played by both girls), $65 for track.

Not to mention the costs for school uniforms, which needed to be replaced year after year due to rapid teenage growth and inevitable yellow armpit stains.

Sure, I could have saved the uniform money by sending them to a public high school rather than Catholic, but the Catholic school was directly across the street from our home, and the public high school was well over 2 km away, yet my children were not eligible for bussing. This would mean many long cold walks in our Canadian winters for them, or extra driving for me, which was impossible due to my school schedule.

Yes, these extra school fees made life extremely stressful at times, and super tight for us as a family, but we never went hungry because of them. My children never had to make the choice between school fees or dropping out to work, or marrying early, or running the streets, like the children in Zambia. The extreme stress of “hidden” school fees we experienced as a family are nothing compared the what single parents, child lead households, and granny run homes in Zambia face every school year.

Pastor Eric Mwambelo (Zambia) points out how similar to my family’s situation, though elementary education in Zambia is “free”; it is not as free as it seems. Along with the costs of school uniforms and supplies mandatory to attend school, there are a number of extra school fees which must be paid at the commencement of the school year which include a general-purpose fund fee, a sports, fee, a projects fee, a PTA fee, and an ID Fee. Pastor Eric points out how prohibitive this can be for families who are not so affluent.

For example, Grace lost both her parents and is being cared for by her granny. She attends Kabwe Jasmine Community School, but was having a difficult time affording her school fees.

Fortunately there is #GivingTuesday!

GivingTueesday was initiated by Henry Timms, the executive director at the non-profit organisation the 92nd Street Y, six years ago in 2012. As a national giving day, which falls on the first Tuesday following the US Thanksgiving holiday (and the day after Cyber Monday), according to Asha Currans, 92 Y’s chief innovative officer “#GivingTuesday is all about all kinds of giving, and every act of giving—especially when we do it together.” Currans also points out that “everyone has something to give—whether its time, or money, or goods, or expertise, or kindness.”

Since 2012, #GivingTuesday has grown from 5000 US partners to over 700,000 donors giving more than 116.7 million dollars in over 71 countries, being endorsed by Bill Gates, Margret Atwood, Michael J. Fox, Justin Trudeau, and Ashton Kutcher.

This year’s WOW’s #GivingTuesday will help children like mine, but who are in much dire need, in Zambia, helping them access school, sports, and projects.

Thanks to your support of our WOW Christmas program and #Giving Tuesday, girls like Grace can remain in school, keeping her out of the way of early marriage and GBV.

Other ways to get involved with #GivingTuesday include:
1. Volunteer- see Volinspire
2. Send a charity gift card- http://givingtuesday.ca/p/1519
3. Fundraise for your charity through givingtuesday.chimp.net
4. Take the Giving Tuesday Pledge & share it
5. #Unselfie- show support for Giving Tuesday by taking an epic pic and tag it #Unselfie and go to CivingTuesday.ca to upload your Instagram, twitter or Facebook from now until November 28th.