Charity Spotlight: How Waste to Wonder is helping empower Global Orphan Empowerment Academy

Written by Michael Amos

Case Studies | Charities | Customer Guides


Everybody Wins.

We provide cost-effective, large scale clearance solutions that promote the ethical reuse of furniture and equipment whilst also supporting our client’s environmental, social, and governance ambitions and as part of our service we also produce videos and reports to provide customers with auditable evidence of their sound investment.

On average, 97% of the goods we clear have been re-used, just 3% have been recycled, and none of it has been sent to landfill.

Sometimes, a chance encounter leads to something more. That’s what happened with Waste to Wonder and the Global Orphan Empowerment Academy, founded by Marie Gillen. It all started when her husband met our Operations Director Vince Smith by chance in a barbershop. The pair struck up a friendship, and in March 2021, Waste to Wonder is now helping Marie fulfil her charity’s ambition of enhancing the quality of life for children across Western Africa.

Meet the Global Orphan Empowerment Academy

The mission of the Global Orphan Empowerment Academy (GOEA) is to give less fortunate children and orphans the chance to access opportunities that can change their lives. The GOEA works with children in deprived areas of Gambia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. 

The charity’s work encompasses every area of a child’s development, including education, physical and mental wellness, social and psychological development, and spiritual well-being. They also provide these children with food and shelter while providing them with the personal development and skills needed to break the cycle of poverty. 

Marie and her organisation have been providing donations and support to hospitals and schools in The Gambia for years, with Marie carrying out humanitarian work on the ground for over 20 years.

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In that time, she has provided aid to over 6,000 children, mostly in rural and underserved communities and schools. She has also visited over 3,000 children in Gambian hospitals, providing clothes and toys to poorly children, as well as crucial medical supplies to help equip the hospitals. The purpose of her work is to create a better life for children.

Marie has said, “Our vision is to see under privilege boys and girls become successful, change the lives of their families and give back to their communities.”

Her work hasn’t gone unnoticed either. In 2016, she was featured in The Gambia’s most prominent media outlet, Gambia Observer, and recognized as a Humanitarian Exemplary. In 2017, she also received an award for donating trophies to the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Marie continued, “Without the support of organisations like Global Orphan Empowerment Academy, these children would be trapped in the cycle of poverty that leaves them with little to no opportunities in life. For these children, education is a luxury and having three hot meals a day is unheard of.”

How Waste to Wonder is helping

During March 2021, three School in a Box containers have been packed with donated furniture from our clients and are currently on their way to GOEA. These pieces of redundant furniture are being given a second life and a new purpose.

This activity is part of Challenge100, which is the target of distributing 100 School in Box containers in 2021. Each container is 40 foot and can carry up to 20 tonnes of furniture. Through this flagship programme, we’re proud to be able to play a role in enabling Marie’s organisation like many others to give these children the support they so desperately need.

Furnishing classrooms, these items will set up an environment where young people can learn and flourish. Items will also be redistributed throughout the local community to children and parents to improve their quality of life and give them the kinds of luxury that we take for granted.

Altogether, the young people in these disadvantaged communities will be able to learn life skills, improve their living conditions and empower themselves to break the cycle of poverty.

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Through our School in a Box programme, Waste to Wonder is privileged to collaborate with charities internationally, each of them with a worthwhile cause close to our hearts. We want to help these charities and organisations to continue to grow and expand, and that ambition relies on our customers.

The School in a Box programme relies on businesses choosing to Ethically Clear their redundant furniture, rather than recycle or send to landfill, and we want this approach to be the de facto choice for businesses when they need to clear their furniture.

We believe in this cause so passionately because not only is it the right thing to do ethically, but it also delivers fundamentally better results for businesses too. From offsetting carbon emissions, to saving financial costs, to making an immeasurable difference to the lives of others, it really is a win-win-win.

How redistributing your unwanted furniture can enhance your business

In most clearance projects, the sad reality is perfectly reusable furniture is sent to the bottom of the waste hierarchy. It’s either broken down into scraps for recycling or even worse, sent to landfill. When there are so many causes such as GOEA where this furniture can change lives, it doesn’t make sense. That disconnect is why Waste to Wonder exists.

Every business – in any sector – is thinking about its corporate social responsibility. It’s no longer just something that you attach to your year-end report. Consumers and clients are actively seeking information about how businesses are making a social impact and lowering their carbon footprint.

Simply by choosing our ethical clearance service and donating to our School in a Box programme, your business demonstrates its commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Every item of furniture you donate supports the work of people like Marie and the GOEA. The beneficial impact to the environmental the communities we help is substantial.Your business also saves considerable amounts in disposal costs, all you have to do is allow us to manage your office clearance project.

As part of our service, we track the furniture and stay in touch with our charity partners to see the positive impact of each donation. We create a legacy report that can feed into CSR policies or can be used as an effective tool to engage stakeholders. If you have a clearance project you’d like to discuss, get in touch with the team at Waste to Wonder.