“What goes into the box is fun, but what comes out is eternal.”
For any age boy here, what they really want is a soccer ball! So get the best quality mini soccer ball that you can fit into the box when it is inflated (or send a deflated ball with a pump) and you can basically forget about anything else!
Brand new nice short-sleeved shirts (with no writing on them) for boys and girls. Small flashlight with batteries (Most families don’t have electricity!)
Good quality melamine plate, bowl, and/or cup (Practical and also special.)
Soap AND a plastic soap dish that has a cover. When you bathe standing on a big rock in the dirt as kids do here, you really need the soap holder.
Toothbrush in a toothbrush holder. Again, the plastic case for the toothbrush is really important!)
Pencils, erasers, colored pencils, and sharpeners for all school-aged kids and good quality pens for kids aged 10-14, in black, red, green, and blue.
Jump ropes, Band-Aids, Hard candy and gum, Comb, Hair elastics or head bands for girls, Marbles, Harmonica, A simple watch for older kids, A solar calculator for older kids, Sunglasses, Socks, For the youngest girls, a baby doll with light brown skin and no hair (good for a child of any color), Toy car, truck or airplane for the youngest boys (The ones with bigger wheels that are made for toddlers and are larger than Matchbox size are good. Matchbox wheels are so small, they don’t work well in dirt.)
Items to Avoid:
Anything with instructions in English; Yo-yo’s; Gloves, winter hats (You don’t know whether your box will end up in Siberia or Senegal.) Play-dough; Stuffed animals (Young kids here usually burst into tears when presented with stuffed animals from their shoeboxes. Animals carry meanings here that are culturally specific.; Stickers or temporary tattoos; T-shirts with words or pictures on them—Stick with solid colors, stripes, or pretty patterns; Anything fragile or breakable.