Hamdia, a schoolgirl in northern Ghana, walks four hours a day to get to school and back.
The 10-year-old’s commitment to education was the inspiration for hundreds of Jewish children to take up the challenge of walking to school themselves.
Instead of being driven by their parents, students from five Jewish schools took part in Tzedek’s Schlep to School initiative last term to raise £20,000 for Hamdia’s school in the village of Kumbungu.
Five-year-old Ilay Gartner from North West London Day Jewish Primary School said he would walk to school every day for charity if it meant children in Ghana had better access to education.
The reception pupil, who raised £450 by walking to school for a week, said: “I really wanted to help other children in Ghana because it is really important for all children to be able to learn.”
As part of the initiative children were taught about Hamdia and her friends’ way of life.
In a video shown at the schools, she told pupils: “I have to walk to school because my parents can’t afford to pay for any other form of transport. I love going to school and when I grow up I would like to be a nurse.”
When Jessie Klein learnt about Hamidia, she realised how lucky she was to be driven by her mother.
“Walking made me feel different about going to school. It takes them ages and shows how important education is to them. It made me appreciate how easy it is for me to get to school.”
The Naima Jewish Preparatory School pupil said it was also a great way to learn about another culture and way of life.
“We wore some Ghanaian clothes and we played Ghanaian drums and we even Skyped the school and got to talk to the children there.
“We also wrote to them and they wrote back to us.”
For her mother Dani Klein, while giving up her car in the morning was stressful, it was the ideal way to teach her daughter about the value of education.
“I thought it was a brilliant. Because I am from South Africa it really resonated with me,” she said.
“We had a Ghanaian friend come and talk to the students about his experience of education when he was growing up and it really opened their eyes.”
Naima school pupils raised £1,427.
Jacob Hirschler, who took part for JCoSS, said he wanted to walk to school to see how it felt for children in the West African country.
The year 7 pupil said: “I don’t know how they do it. They wake up at four or five every morning just to get to school.
“Before that they wash the dishes, I can’t believe it. Walking to my school only took an hour and it was tiring.
“But it made me feel grateful for the education I have.”
Ben Rosenberg, informal educator at JCoSS, said: “The importance of tikkun olam is key at JCoSS in developing our students to become upstanding ethical members of their community and to understand that there are people in this world who are not as fortunate as us.”
Pupils from Hertsmere Jewish Primary School and Sacks Morasha Jewish Primary School also took part.