The Tutudesk and MySchool Campaign
We’ve worked on planes, trains, automobiles, airport lounges, deserts, riverbeds, seaside promenades and even olive groves, like the one above.
I’ve written in many parts of the world, with the crush of the rainbow wheel as the laptop struggles to latch onto a stable Internet connection. I’ve managed to write on my lap, and with varying degrees of success, on the flimsy table of an economy-class airplane seat, while my neighbour in front reclined all the way back, wedging the table between my chest and my ears.
In my field, as a writer, and with both of us choosing to work as digital nomads for long stretches, we’ve had to adapt and take advantage of the time and connection, when we get one. In times like this, what I really need is a small, flat worksurface.
What I miss when I’m on the road is the convenience (and comfort) of my work desk. Scattered around it are large dictionaries, reference books, articles I’m reading for research, space for pens and highlighters, and a handy cup of tea. Even a plate of biscuits. It’s at the desk that I’ve done some of my clearest thinking, taken on big risks, said yes to projects, written paragraph after paragraph on deadline, and even shed a tear or two in privacy.
A desk has become a luxury in my field of work, and second to a decent bed and good WiFi connection, it’s the thing I seek out when I book a hotel or apartment. In fact, I’m writing this on a small, round marble-topped table that’s doubling as a desk that we are sharing in turns, in this Queens loft apartment we’ve hired for the week. Here it is:
I’ve studied a bit over the years – and earned two tough degrees, the last one a Masters in commercial law, by dedicating time and effort to the subjects at a desk. I’ve done several other courses in the years since, and while I read for leisure or to revise lying down, I need the structure of placing the behind firmly on a chair and at a little table, to activate my commitment to the task at hand. Slouching on the bed or on the floor is the surest way for me to fall fast asleep, and it’s precisely why I read a few pages just before I’m ready for some zzzzzs. No other remedy needed.
I always advise learners to get comfortable at a desk, even if it’s a corner of the kitchen or dining room table or a dresser, to maximise productivity, and produce sharp, focused results.
When the Tutudesk and Woolworths MySchool, the latter of whom I’ve worked with this year on the Harvest Table project with Obs Junior School,* and supported for years for my local school at Ysterplaats Primary, asked me to support, I did so without hesitation.
*You can watch the video of that project featured by SABC Expresso, here*
About the Tutudesk Campaign
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the official patron of the campaign says: “I was a barefoot township urchin. I went to school where there were no desks. We sat on benches and when the teacher asked us to write, we knelt down on the floor and used the benches we had been sitting on as desks … I wish Tutudesks had been available in my day!”
It’s estimated that 3 million South African children are without a desk at school, and this has a direct impact on the quality of their handwriting, ability to concentrate and produce coherent, legible, creative work.
The desk is made of high-grade polymer, is flexible, portable and weighs less than a kilogram. Children can carry it (it has a handle), and place it on their laps. It provides a stable surface to write, draw, read, dream and learn.
The results that are in are very heartening:
“The Tutudesk Campaign has already assisted 1,3 million learners in 24 African countries. Results from an independent research survey covering 16 000 Tutudesk recipients and 500 teachers indicated sharp improvements in multiple areas relating to literacy development and academic performance – 80% of teachers said that learner’s handwriting was easier to read, 77% said that Tutudesk had made learning easier for their students and that they were able to teach more effectively, 76% of teachers advised that Tutudesks had significantly improved the overall learning experience for their pupils and there was an overall 65% improvement in homework delivery.”
You’ll need a Woolworths MySchool card. I’ve had one for years, because a small percentage of my bill is donated to the schools I’ve selected as beneficiaries, and the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme raises more than R3 million per month for schools in need.
How? Apply for a card here: https://www.myschool.co.za/supporter/apply/, to swipe to support
This is what MySchool says:
For Youth Day 2015, MySchool is aiming to raise R350 000-00 for 2 500 lap desks.
Every time a MySchool card is swiped at a participating retailers R1 will be donated
towards the Desmond Tutu Tutudesk Campaign.
The participating retailers are Woolworths, Waltons, Toys R Us, Reggie’s and
The campaign is running from the 13th to 16th June (4 days – Saturday, Sunday, Monday
The R1 donation will be made over and above the contribution already made towards
the cardholder’s selected beneficiary.
By 2020 the Tutudesk Campaign aims to have provided 20 million desks to 20 million
Disclaimer: Tutudesk and MySchool approached me to participate for a fee. It’s a project I support wholeheartedly, nonetheless.
[…] My struggle has long stopped being “What will I wear?”, though that does trip me up slightly every time I book at a particularly fancy restaurant, the ones will the stars and servers with LA-approved pearly whites. The desert-friendly loose pants and shirts just don’t cut it. Instead, when asking what I should pack, I invariably mean: what can I safely leave behind this time? When I travel, I’m taking a wardrobe that needs to easily adapt to various countries and climates and social norms, a comprehensive medical kit, and a freelancer’s mobile office. I’m usually working on existing commissions and documenting day-to-day travel either for instant reporting or for future stories. That’s a lot of chargers, batteries, lenses, bags and gear. It’s tough being away from a desk full of reference materials too, and let’s be honest: a half-decent and stable work surface. […]