Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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A dance school in NSW is helping to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged children, one step at a time.  

For more than a decade, students at Sloan’s Dance Academy in Cessnock, about two hours north of Sydney,  have been raising funds for a small preschool in rural Zambia.

Kelly Egan, the owner and director of Sloan’s Dance Academy and long-time ChildFund Australia supporter,  started the fundraiser – a raffle held at the dance school’s annual concert – 11 years ago.  

“Being able to give to people in need is the most amazing feeling,” Kelly says. “It gives our dance school and myself so much joy knowing we are making a difference.”

Every year at the concert, the proceeds from the sale of program pamphlets and the raffle are donated to the preschool in Zambia to help provide essential and equipment and resources. Over the years, the preschool was renamed the Kelly Egan Early Childhood Education Centre because of the ongoing support of Kelly and her dance academy.

How sponsorship is helping hundreds of preschool children

Kelly first discovered the preschool in 2008 when she travelled to Zambia to meet her sponsored child Auleria, whom she has been supporting through ChildFund for 14 years.

Hundreds of pre-school children in rural and remote communities in Timor-Leste have received learning packs from ChildFund, allowing them to continue their education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year a roll-out of government restrictions to curb the impact and spread of the virus in Timor-Leste resulted in the closure of schools across the country, leaving many children in disadvantaged communities without access to opportunities to learn and play.

Over the past several weeks ChildFund Timor-Leste has been distributing educational packs to children in 10 early childhood development centres in Liquica and Lautem municipalities. More than 350 children have received a pack, which includes storybooks, toys, Lego, jigsaw puzzles, balls, drawing and writing materials, as well as soap and information on COVID-19 and hygiene.

Four-year-old Jenilda was scheduled to start school for the first time at an early education centre supported by ChildFund in Lautem when the pandemic hit.

She was eager to start learning, her mother Victoria says, but when the centre was forced to close because of government restrictions, Jenilda had to stay home and her education was delayed.

The learning pack Jenilda received from ChildFund has brought her a lot of joy and kept her mind and body active, says Victoria.

“The materials help our children play and learn at home,” Victoria says.