Students’ bright ideas fuel fundraising for school lunches in Nepal

A group of Auckland primary students is challenging other children to join them in raising money to pay for 100,000 lunches for an earthquake-struck school in Nepal, which is still struggling to recover from the 2015 earthquake that devastated the mountainous country.


Toys and vegetables are prepared for sale by Sasha Smirnova, Emily Bell, Katie Warman and Leah Toohey.

The CareKids students from Murrays Bay Primary are fundraising for Rangjung Yeshe Shenpen School Meal Programme in Kathmandu, using ideas they came up with themselves.

They have already exceeded their target to pay for 1,000 lunches and have raised over $1,500 for meals for children from poor families as the school can’t afford food for all its students.

Leah Toohey donated her ‘tooth fairy’ money to buy schools lunches in Nepal
Leah Toohey donated her ‘tooth fairy’ money to buy schools lunches in Nepal, now other children are doing the same.

The project is also providing learning opportunities, as the Auckland students are developing skills in problem solving, planning, creative thinking, facing and meeting challenges, working collaboratively, negotiating and showing empathy.

Since the earthquake killed 9,000 people, much of the damage has gone unrepaired and the effects still linger in places like Kathmandu, including job losses that have affected many families already living in poverty. The quake destroyed the homes of 200,000 people, many of whom are still living in tents.

Shenpen School’s Meal Programme is run by a non-profit social work organisation, Rangjung Yeshe Shenpen. It needs 250 lunches per day at the school, and currently can only afford to provide 100, so many of the students go hungry.

Kids helping other kids

Ethan Shan, Marcus and Ryan Yang pick organic vegetables to sell at the stall.
Ethan Shan, Marcus and Ryan Yang pick organic vegetables to sell at the stall.

Margaret O’Sullivan is the owner and director of CareKids facility which provides pre- and after-school services for Murrays Bay School. She found out about the Nepalese school children’s plight via a friend’s postings on social media.

Her friend Stephen Black has done extensive aid work in Nepal, coordinating help to families. He was there when the disaster struck and stayed to help with relief work.

He is currently raising money on Givealittle and the appeal has so far raised over $14,000. Immediately after the quake, he raised nearly $20,000 through family and friends to directly provide housing materials, medical supplies, and financial support.

Sasha Smirnova gave her pocket money to the fundraiser.
Sasha Smirnova gave her pocket money to the fundraiser.

“I brought the Givealittle fundraiser back to life as a massive need still remains and seeing the benefits it could bring to hundreds if not thousands of people.”

Margaret says, “We strongly support ‘kids’ voice’ in everything we do and I thought it would be good for our children to look at the problem and come up with ideas for fundraising, which they have done.”

The list of ideas was very long, and creative. One was for parents to go without coffee for one day, and put the money saved towards the fundraising effort. They’ve also cooked and sold donuts and cakes, sold vegetables from their organic garden, sold second-hand goods at a stall, held a cultural day, and sponsored a walkathon.

Margaret says that the children also used maths in the project, calculating what the costs of the lunches were, and how much needed to be raised.

“Then they came up with ideas of how to raise even more by getting more children involved, and have now put up a challenge for other schools to join in.

Children eating lunch at the Shenpen School in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Children eating lunch at the Shenpen School in Kathmandu, Nepal.

“Our target is to get 100 schools on board, to raise enough money for 100,000 lunches.” The lunches cost 50 cents per person.

“It’s about kids helping other kids and it’s all child-led. One of the learnings they are taking from this is that an initiative does not have to be led by adults – they can do it themselves, and succeed in helping other people,” Margaret says.

The children have really got behind it in all sorts of amazing ways, she says. “If they have a gold coin in their pocket, they will donate that to the fund, and one of our five-year-olds has donated money she got from the Tooth Fairy. Another has given her pocket money. Others made donuts, which their parents took to work and sold.”

School Principal Ken Ward says the project is a great way for the children to connect with the world and apply learning in a real life context.

 

Stephen Black has been helping coordinate aid for communities in Nepal
Stephen Black has been helping coordinate aid for communities in Nepal since the earthquake in 2015.

“What’s been achieved so far is a great starting point, and the school will be supporting it by encouraging other students to join in. It’s about giving back to the community and paying it forward,” he says.

Close ties have been developed between the children at the 2 schools, and the Shenpen children are in the process of writing cards of appreciation to express their thanks. “It is great that there’s dialogue and there will be ongoing connection,” Margaret says.

Donations can be made on the Nepal One Hundred Thousand Lunches Givealittle page

Find out more about the Shenpen School meals programme

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