Julia Essman from Munich, Germany is a Hands at Work Arise and Build Advocate mobilising support and awareness for vulnerable children in the village of Kiwewe in Democratic Republic of Congo. As a mother of 3, Julia wanted to involve the whole family in supporting Kiwewe’s children and decided she would start with her own children’s schools. She found a particularly exciting response from the school of her youngest son Casper (7), which invited Julia to speak to each of their school’s classes.
“It was a pleasure to spend time with the school kids,” says Julia. “We have been quite impressed by the children’s interest, open hearts and compassion with the children in Congo. Ever since I visited the classrooms of my son’s school, kids run towards me wherever I go, asking about the children in Kiwewe village and telling me how much they appreciate the work.”
Julia’s classroom presentations sparked real interest in both teachers and students. They wanted to know more. Julia explained that as a partner of Hands at Work she was committed to raise support to sponsor Kiwewe’s most vulnerable children. They agreed that the school would get involved too.
They began to brainstorm and hit upon the idea of a “Fun Run” to be promoted at the school. 400 children signed up and carried the message of Kiwewe’s children home to their families and friends. And in July 2012 they all hit the field together for a day of fun running with more than €16,000 of sponsorships behind them! Julia and the teachers were overwhelmed by the response. But the money wasn’t the whole story of success. The event was just the beginning of engaging the German school children in a partnership with Africa.
Julia created a tool kit that schools could use to educate their pupils about Africa. “We have put together a box for schools with various material, songs, stories, and information about Africa to inspire the teachers in their projects with the children,” she says. “The obvious goal of this is to be able to financially support but also to build a friendship between the school here in Munich and the school in Kiwewe village together with the children, parents and teachers of those schools.”
“We want to give children in Germany a bigger picture of the life of a child in Africa. We also want them to see the resourcefulness and capacity of Africans by engaging them in African songs, playing African children’s games with them, and doing craftwork with colourful fabrics from Africa.”
By committing herself to stand on behalf of vulnerable children in a specific village in Africa and by involving others acting out her compassion, Julia is helping to change lives of children around the world.
Julia’s advocacy work is providing committed sponsorship to 100 orphaned and vulnerable children in Kiwewe.