Many schoolchildren in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to a desk on which to do their schoolwork. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but imagine a school where you have to sit on the dirt floor and use your seat as a desk for your paper. It does not sound like an easy way to learn.

Charles Albury, a fifth grade student at Five Oaks Academy in Simpsonville, learned of a charity called TutuDesk that provides simple writing desks to these children to help give them a better chance at success in school. He wrote to Thandi Tutu, founder of TutuDesk and the oldest daughter of Desmond Tutu, and asked her to speak to his school. She obliged and helped the school create a campaign to raise money for the organization. Charles met Thandi Tutu through his mother, who works to help women and girls in poverty around the world.

“I invited her to my school, Five Oaks Academy, and we did a presentation together,” Charles said. “And this jumpstarted a movement to raise money for Tutu Desks at my school and then it started snowballing to other Montessori schools.”

While most 11-year-olds are worried about Fortnite skins, Charles is keenly aware of global issues and what he can do about them. His teacher, Jamilah Wilkes, said Charles is a funny and entertaining child who also has a passion for helping those in need.

“He often ponders how he can help with a problem and what solutions are out there to solve a problem,” Wilkes said.

When he grows up, Charles said he wants to either go to MIT and study nuclear engineering or go to Harvard and study math education so he can teach college.

According to Charles’ teacher and his mother, he is a child who feels strongly about helping those in need. He is eager to help at home, at school and across the world.

The goal is to have 20 million TutuDesks distributed to children by 2025. So far, more than 1 million have been distributed, with an overwhelmingly positive response. Teachers and parents report better handwriting, better learning opportunities, a rise in gender equality and more. Learn more at

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