Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

On 13 July 2013, 10 music students from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne shared their love of music in a concert dedicated to supporting children and families in Uganda.

Brought together by their passion for music, this group gathered regularly for dinners, concerts and any celebration with music from early 2012. As time passed they were inspired to do something more meaningful with their talents.

Together, they organised a concert with two main goals: to share their classical music talents with the wider community and help children in need. With 10 musicians in the group, they had a strong concert program with a mix of piano, violin and flute. They also had the range of skills needed to organise the show, with some of the musicians taking on additional roles like venue organiser, finance and marketing.

All the planning, organising and promotion paid off. On the night, more than 300 people attended the concert and over $1,000 was collected for programs supporting war-affected children and communities in Uganda.

Rebekah was one of the organisers and the master of ceremonies on the night. When we asked her about the key to her success in this event she said: “The advice we would give other people who are considering undertaking such a large fundraising event is the importance of role arrangements for people who are involved. Assigning roles such as administration, marketing, finance, concert program, stage management and performance means everything gets done and it gets done well. Also, it is necessary to have a leader among those people who conducts the progress of organising the event.”

ChildFund would like to send a special thanks to all involved, including performers Soojin An, Mary Hyunju Chun, Lucy Mikyung Ha, Jane Jiwon Lee, Jisook Noh, Laverne Eungyul Oh, Angela Jieun Park, Dana Park and Lina Heeseung Park; master of ceremonies Rebekah Chaerin Kim; and volunteer organiser Yesool Song.

At a primary school in Timor-Leste, parents are becoming more involved in their children’s education through the Parent-Teacher Association.

In partnership with AusAID, ChildFund Australia is funding a project to promote child-friendly preschools and primary schools. One of the program’s objectives is to strengthen schools and their communities through active PTAs.

Read about what the parents have to say below, and how their involvement is improving the school experience for students.

 

What does the PTA program involve?

 

“As a member of the PTA, I have to help so that my children will have a comfortable classroom,” says Madalena, a mother of four.

Two of her children attend a primary school in the Bobonaro district, where 17 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers and 13 primary schools participate in the program, with more than 4,000 children benefiting.

Parents and teachers are expected to understand their roles and responsibilities and how they can contribute to their child-friendly school.

 

How does the program relates to other ChildFund projects?

 

ChildFund is not new to Madalena; her children all benefit in different ways from projects run by our national office in Timor-Leste and Hamutuk, a local partner organisation.

Her second child, Ricardo is a fifth-grader and her third-born is in second grade. Her daughter also attends an ECD center in the same compound as her son’s school. Ricardo has had an Aussie sponsor since 2007.

 

How the PTA program is involving parents in their child’s education

 

Madalena helped cook and provided vegetables and bread for workers who were renovating the school recently. She also was happy to assume the responsibility of supervising quality control whenever the workers asked her to check the alignment of blocks and proper placement of ceilings.

She excitedly anticipated the end result: a comfortable learning space for the schoolchildren.

 

What impact has the PTA program had in the school?

 

Before, children endured leaking roofs, which disrupted their learning, as well as unsecured doors and windows, which allowed the entry of stray animals into classrooms. Madalena says that before starting classes in the morning, the children had to clean the classrooms and the land around the school, putting their health at risk and reducing learning time.

But, today, with the help of parents, teachers and students, the school is more comfortable and has proper chairs and tables for the children. Teachers now have space to prepare their lesson plans and keep school records in a renovated faculty room. Madalena added that rehabilitated classrooms are not only good for students but for the entire community.

 

A mother’s hopes for the future

 

Still, the school has remaining challenges; animals continue to enter the school premises because there is no perimeter fence, and there’s no safe drinking water. Children also are at risk because the school is dangerously close to the community’s main road.

The PTA`s participation continues to be very important in improving the condition of the school, says Madalena, and she hopes more parents will participate as time goes on.

If you’d like to see ChildFund implement more programs like these, which improve the quality of children’s education in the countries where we work, we need your help.

Our Gifts for Good range contains a variety of education-focused charity gifts. This includes school kits, bags, library books, safe study desks, all of which will help parents like Madalena create quality learning experiences for their children.