Meet Singapore's mini humanitarians: these small people with big hearts are raising funds for those less fortunate than themselves and achieving amazing things along the way...
Children in Singapore have been listening more than we know to the news, as well as to us grown-ups talking about serious issues in the world right now… But not only have these kids been listening, they are also taking action! If you’ve been thinking of ways to give back to society by doing some volunteer work, donating to a charity in Singapore or raising funds for a good cause, look no further than these amazing children for inspiration. From fundraising for refugee families to building a school in Cambodia, these young people are turning their spare time into fundraising opportunities for causes that have real meaning to them – and showing us grown-ups that you’re never too young to do a world of good…
PS If your children are keen to share their time for a good cause, there are some great opportunities in Singapore for children to get involved in volunteer work, too.
Charitable children currently on a fundraising mission…
Tahlia Henshall is just 10 years old, but was so moved when she learned about how children her age and younger have to walk a huge distance each day just to collect water that is dirty and often carries diseases, that she has set up a ‘Buy-A-Well’ campaign though World Vision. A student at International Community School Singapore, her goal is to raise $15,000 by in order to buy a well for a whole village in Zambia! To date her efforts have brought in a whopping $8,096, and her compassion for these children, and her dedication to this project has overwhelmed her mum Naomi with pride. Naomi tells us about Tahlia’s efforts:
“Tahlia’s first fundraising event was a condo bake sale, which raised $300. It was a start and made her even more determined to raise as much as possible. So our family took on a ‘water challenge’: we drank nothing but water for two weeks and donated the money saved. It is amazing how much we spend on drinks that are not water without realising!
Tahlia’s greatest accomplishment so far is a sponsored 5km run, which took every bit of willpower on her behalf as she found it a huge physical challenge. There were tears during training and a lot of encouragement was needed as Tahlia hates running. But she knew that the children who were going to benefit from this water well had no choice but to walk kilometres every day, so she trained hard and did indeed run the race which was a huge personal achievement for her – and brought in over $1k for her fundraising. Future fundraising ideas to push her closer to that big target include plans to hold a High Tea and also a Book Swap event. She is so engaged in this wonderful project and her making a difference for other people is something that makes me so very proud to be her mum. Please do have a look at Tahlia’s buy-a-well campaign for World Vision, see how far she has come, and know that any money you can spare will go a long way to making a big difference to people less fortunate than ourselves.”
Zahra and Hassan, siblings and students at XCL World Academy (formerly known as GEMS World Academy Singapore), have been making their parents proud whilst raising some serious money for a number of deserving causes that have touched their hearts. Their mum, Alia, tells us all about their amazing fundraising ventures both past and present…
“Zahra and Hassan’s fundraising efforts this time round have been the result of hearing about the refugee crisis in Europe during our summer holiday trip to the UK, and subsequently since coming back to Singapore. The children have been greatly moved by it all. The conversation between them was something along the lines of “isn’t it just so sad that these people have to run to the sea to save their lives while we go to the seaside for picnics and ice-creams.” This was following the news stories about the refugees trying to travel to Europe by boat and not always making it.
This recent charity effort is the third ‘proper’ fundraising venture for the children. They feel it’s their responsibility to care about their fellow human beings and being young means that their wonderfully rose-tinted vision has them believing that anyone, even a child, can make a difference. Their first formal fundraising effort came in the wake of the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The children came up with the idea of a two-phase fundraiser. The first step was collecting donations of pre-loved toys and books from students at school, friends, family, neighbours etc. The second phase was to sell these donated items and give the proceeds to the Red Cross.
The Nepal Earthquake was another event that really affected both Zahra and Hassan. Once more the news coverage moved the children into action. The two of them worked tirelessly to collect donations of pre-loved items and then they sold the donated goods at school, pop-up shops in the condo, on Facebook, selling to businesses, an open house at home and also running lucky dip stalls in the playground at school. Their hard work and determination paid off and they raised a sizeable amount to donate to the Red Cross.
For their most recent fundraiser, to support the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), they’ve gone a bit more high tech and decided to try online donations through Justgiving.com. They felt the need to act quickly, and that an online appeal would give them the chance to attract the attention of a wider pool of potential donors.
They both sat together to research the charities linked to Justgiving.com and chose the UNHCR as their beneficiary since the UNHCR is providing the basic necessities of life to the refugees where and when they need them most. The children’s appeal was also featured by the UNHCR on its Twitter page!”
Zahra and Hassan have certainly been busy and have already raised $6250 between them – clearly two wonderful humanitarians in the making. To help them to continue with their amazing fundraising efforts, visit Zahra and Hassan’s fundraising page on Justgiving.
Gus Donald hates having his hair cut… but that didn’t stop him from shaving it all off for a charity close to his heart. We spoke to his chuffed mum, Donna, who told us that the hair-raising event came about after Gus had been learning about children’s rights at Hillside World Academy (HWA), where he goes to school. He had heard of Hair for Hope (a yearly event in Singapore that is held to raise money for Children’s Cancer Foundation) and had decided that despite loving his mop of hair, he was going to shave it all off for children with cancer. Donna says that as parents they were a little apprehensive about him getting all of his hair shaved off, and were worried he might be teased or come to regret his decision. However, they encouraged him all the way and were filled with pride at all the support he received from friends, family and strangers alike. They were also rather pleased to see Gus’ gorgeous face revealed from beneath all that hair!
Gus tells us in his own words more about his sponsored shave-a-thon:
“My name is Gus and I am nine years old. My parents usually have to drag me kicking and screaming to the hairdressers because I hate having short hair. However on the 19th of September 2015 I willingly strode into the barber and had all my locks shaved right off. I did this to raise funds for the Children’s Cancer Foundation in Singapore as I believe every child has the right live as full a life as possible. I chose this date as it was the date when my grandmother died from cancer in 1998, and sadly I never got the chance to meet her. When my head was being shaved I was feeling nervous because I was going to miss my hair and I didn’t know if I would look good or bad. But afterwards I was relieved and happy because I have raised over $3.5k for the Children’s Cancer Foundation. So it’s been worth it! I like my bald head… but prefer to have hair.”
To donate money to this brave young man’s cause, do visit Gus Donald’s fundraising page for the Children’s Cancer Foundation on Simply Giving.
When UWCSEA student Ella McAuliffe said that she wished all children had a school, her teachers encouraged her to help raise funds to build her own! And so Grade 6 student Ella began planning how she would go about raising the $28k needed to build a school in Svay Rieng province, Cambodia. The school community all rallied to help her and within two years Ella achieved her initial target. Incredibly, Ella has raised funds to be build not just one school, but is currently raising funds for her FIFTH school! Ella tells us herself how her passion for helping others started, and how her projects came about:
“Ever since I was little I have been involved in humanitarian concerns, and these have always been part of my family’s conversations. When I was four years old, I started to visit projects, beginning with Banda Aceh in Indonesia in early 2006. It was just over 12 months after the disastrous earthquake and tsunami. My dad was running basketball clinics and a tournament to encourage the children to start playing their sport again to aid their emotional recovery. My mum was overseeing the reconstruction of a junior high school and also a fund that provides the financial support of children who were orphaned as a result of the tsunami. This was all in a response launched by United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA). I remember seeing so much destruction, so many broken buildings and I felt very sad that lots of families had suffered so much loss when my own family was so safe, secure and intact.
From that experience, others followed. UWCSEA’s Turtle Project on Tioman, an orangutan project in South Kalimantan and trips to Cambodia. I broadened my understanding of development. I asked lots of questions and I made many friends in the world of non-government organisations. At UWCSEA, we have an opportunity of being part of a program called Global Concerns. It is our international service program and it enables me to address issues of poverty head on. My chosen NGO is Tabitha, Cambodia. Tabitha enables people to break from the poverty cycle, working in rural Cambodia to help the poorest of the poor.
The right to an education has become somewhat of a crusade for me and with that the right for girls to attend school. United Nations statistics claim that today, an estimated 61 million children (and most likely far many more) are not attending primary school. That’s over 10 times the population of Singapore. This is an unacceptably high number for anyone to digest, especially for those who have had opportunity and in my case, the luxury of a place in one of the best classrooms in the world. So, what can we do? Well, for me, it has become a driven ambition to raise funds for school building in Cambodia.
Having built my understanding of what a difference a water well, a set of pigs or some chickens would make to a Cambodian family’s life, I set to work to raise funds for pigs, wells and chickens. In Grade 2, I raised enough money to buy three wells, 10 sets of pigs and 50 chickens. Then, I set my sights on a house and managed this too. I have been a housebuilder in Cambodia for the past four years and I can see that because of the Tabitha savings program, rural Cambodian families are ready to send their children to school – but there are simply not enough schools.
At the age of eight, I set myself a goal to fund a school. I aimed to have the school built by the time I finished Grade 5. I asked Janne Ritskes, the Founder and Director of Tabitha, to send me a proposal of a school I might be able to build. My idea had a shape, form, a name and a number of students who would be studying in the classrooms. The name of the school is Prey Bantaey with an enrollment of 221 children aged four to 10 years old. The one school building structure that was in place was a three sided thatched room where the little children would crowd into and the rest of the children would spill outside and try to do their lessons under the tree.
In May 2011, just seven days after I turned 10, and when I was in Grade 4, Prey Bantaey School opened its doors. I visited the school in January 2012 and it was great to see the children in the classrooms. Before I got there, I could clearly imagine the children in their school without having to see them. To see them is not so important for me, what was important was the children all had a place to learn. There are equal numbers of boys and girls in Prey Bantaey school. I emphasise this point about girls’ education. In Cambodia, only one per cent of girls continue into high school.
Since then three more Ella’s Schools have opened their doors to children in rural Cambodia, the most recent being in June 2015, which is a six-room building, with 840 students and three sessions throughout the day. We are in the process of raising funds for the fifth school. There is still a long way to go.”
Ella’s amazing achievement was recognised when she was awarded the Kurt Hahn Award in 2012 at the Round Square International Conference, becoming the youngest ever recipient of the prestigious award!
All of our young humanitarian superstars prove that it isn’t how old you are, but how much you care when it comes to doing some good in the world!
Fun ideas for fundraising as a family:
Host a garage sale
Get together with some neighbours and host a community garage sale to empty your home of clutter and turn it into cash for those less fortunate. Most condos have a function room you can hire (do check with your management office first that such sales would be permissible), or find a spot on the grounds and follow a flea market style! Private house residents generally have a great yard space in which to host a sale. Advertise on Facebook and get the word out around the neighbourhood. And for those living in HDBs, find a spot in the community as a venue and spread the word!
HoneyKids’ junior reporters along with a group of neighbours are themselves hosting a sale this weekend at Savannah Condo, Simei Rise on Saturday 3rd October from 11am-3pm! All proceeds from the charity table, refreshment stand (the kids are busy baking thousands of cheese biscuits as this is typed) and the prize raffle will be going to UN Human Rights Council for Syria. Do pop by and say hello if you are in the area! The biscuits are delicious…
Arrange a bake sale
Everybody loves homemade baked goods. Kids love baking and decorating delicious goodies, so why not turn a rainy afternoon into a chance to raise a few dollars for a good cause? Message all your friends and visit all your neighbours with your yummy wares and turn a few biscuits into a bag of rice for a needy child! Daiso sells some great cookie cutter shapes; pop some of their glass jars into the basket while you are there. A jar full of deliciousness tied with a bow will be an easy sell!
Take part in a sponsored swim, walk or run
Get the kids active for their charity fundraising exploits! Get the children to set a target, whether it be lengths swum or miles cycled, and then rally round the friends and family to sponsor their efforts. This is a double whammy of personal achievement and contributing to a good cause that’s guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s faces.