Home' Independence : Independence Vol 34 No 1 May 2009 Contents Independence Volume 34 No. 1 85
as a guest worker, but sends no money
and may or may not return.
Kumit is a clever boy who sings
beautifully and is a great little soccer
player. Without my sponsorship he would
have had to leave school and hang about
on the streets with no supervision, as at
that time his mum worked as a piece
worker in a sweat shop.
After taking tea with all the neighbours
who crowded in to see the white lady we
went shopping – some runners for Kumit,
a badly needed text book for his brother,
two fountain pens, and a bag of rice for
the family. All up this cost me a little over
$US30. The whole family walked me to a
taxi rank and negotiated a fare for me and
as we walked Kumit agreed to sing for me.
In the sweetest tuneful boy soprano I was
treated to both verses of the Nepali
national anthem. Can you understand why
this visit was the highlight of my trip?
Kumit will go on to complete high school
and on graduation he will have a small
bank account, as part of each month’s
sponsorship is banked in his name to pay
for tertiary education. This money is not
accessible until he finishes school.
An important part of our educational
thrust is to see that our children learn
English and gain computer skills. Both
of these we feel will be tremendous assets
in the cities in which they live, especially
in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where the
tourist trade has brought huge
opportunities to the local people who
have the skills required to work in
hospitality. English is crucial.
In Siem Reap, Nepcam pays the salary
of an English teacher who comes to our
schools each week to improve the level of
English amongst our pupils. Computing
skills are enhanced by a system of pupil
monitors. Bright students are taught how
to use the machines in a cyber café and,
for a small remuneration (and the use of
a laptop kindly donated), are required to
teach the other children how to set up
a hotmail account, type in a message to
their sponsor, and to send and receive
mail. Those who are taught have a
responsibility to teach another in turn.
On the planning board is a program to
train teachers, especially in Nepal. There,
because the government schools are so
neglected, our children go to private
schools. Even so, the teachers are often
friends or relatives of the Nepali owner,
with no teacher training. The pay is so
little that they cannot afford to go for
in-service training but we are looking to
Australian teachers to possibly sponsor
a Nepali teacher to undertake some prof-
essional training and so lift the standards
in the schools in which we work.
My involvement in Nepcam has been so
enriching and rewarding. I only wish I
had been involved sooner and that we had
started it up earlier. It has been a great
means of meeting people, too. We relate
closely with the sponsors and meet with
them at least twice a year after Colin has
visited all our children in both countries.
He brings back with him photos, letters,
school reports and teachers’ comments
on our children.
Sadly there have been five cases where the
child has lost the sponsorship through
non-attendance or failure of the parent
to support the scheme. With so many
needing help, we commit to our sponsors
that each dollar will be well spent on a
Kumit and his family in their room.
child who can benefit from schooling,
with a mother (or father) who is a good
carer and supportive of the child’s
Of course we have a website4, and can
supply speakers for Sydney and rural
schools with no obligation to support the
work financially. However Nepcam does
have connections with schools which
support the work in general, or which
sponsor a child. Several of my fellow
Principals are sponsors, and other
colleagues have donated to the teacher
training and internet programs.
People like the fact that they know where
their money is going, that none of it is
disappearing in mysterious ‘overheads’ or
fat pay cheques, and that they are helping
children and families in a very practical
and hands on way. They appreciate the
fact that they can be involved in the
progress of their children, and can even
visit them at their school and home.
Retirement can be challenging, with
a change of status and income and
responsibility. But it can also be a happy
time, with this sort of volunteering
offering such a practical opportunity to
continue serving the needs of children,
children who this time are so desperately
poor and deeply in need.
The other lesson I have learned is how
much a little money can do to change
lives. It takes just a few dollars to make
a real difference – just the price of a
muffin and a cup of coffee.
1 See www.amnesty.org.au
2 See www.tabithafoundationaustralia.com
3 See www.asiaeducation.edu.au/network/
4 See www.nepcam.org.au
Coral Dixon may be contacted
at email@example.com .
Links Archive Independence Vol 33 No 2 Oct 2008 Independence Vol 34 No 2 Oct 2009 Navigation Previous Page Next Page