Children help children

Children help children

Grace Bunker – Sri Lanka

Perhaps it is because children have been so disproportionately affected by the Asian Tsunami that they have been so generous in responding to the needs of other children savaged by the waves, or perhaps children always respond with such compassion and we adults in our self absorption don’t notice it, or down play it as being “cute”, but whatever the reason, I have received many touching tales of children in the United States, Jaffna, and Australia helping the tsunami victims and I want to share them with you, the public.

Being a teacher I have many teacher friends and acquaintances who have written to ask my help in getting the money their students have collected to those in need, preferably other school children, but anyone in need will do.

In El Paso, Texas, U.S.A., teacher Cindy Sizemore wrote to me, “My high school has concluded our tsunami fundraiser and they have raised about $1700. Our marketing classes raised the majority of the money by selling bracelets at $1.00 each. Our school is extremely low income so I am even more proud of their generosity. We will send a check to Global Ministries to be used for relief efforts in Jaffna and surrounding areas.”

My niece in South Boston, Kathleen Sullivan, wrote that her school has raised over $5000. Of that, $1000 will come to the American Ceylon Mission. She says, “Students from grades 5-12 raised the money by asking family, friends, and neighbors if they’d like to donate to the relief effort. It was led in part by some teachers and in part by our senior class. They went to classrooms around the school and explained the effort, how far the money would go, and encouraged kids to ask for money in their neighborhoods. The 6th grade was the class assigned to the Sri Lankan effort, but the money comes from the efforts of the whole school. We were careful about not making it a glitzy fundraiser. It was one of the simplest we’ve done.”

Dwayne Gooch, a member of the team of mission partners who visited the JDCSI last year from the Indiana/Kentucky conference, told me of a school near him, Bremen Middle/Elementary School, that was raising money for the tsunami victims. I asked for details and the principal replied with the following information:

“Students at nearly every grade level in our building participated in various fundraisers for the tsunami victims. A brief rundown of the totals from each grade level is: Grade One – $150, Grade Two – $400.25 (They studied and discussed the impact that this tragedy had on the world… discussed how we can all make a difference.), Grade Three – $205.73 (They had a Tsunami fundraising day to teach students to help others in need and learn more about the world we live in.), Grade Five – $826.85 (They raffled off the World’s Largest Hershey Bar), Grade Six, Seven, and Eight – over $1500 (They had a penny drive to determine what group of male faculty members would receive a “make-over” at a student assembly. The seventh grade team of teachers won.) The grand total of $3,082.83 was raised by our school to help the tsunami victims.”

From New Jersey, U.S.A. a friend’s son wrote, “I write with the hope that you might tell me how we can help provide assistance to the people pf Sri Lanka. My wife and I were discussing the tragedy and the relief effort with our 10-year-old daughter Olivia who wanted to do something that would be meaningful for the children of Sri Lanka. My daughter’s 4th grade class has been involved with the global peace awareness movement and recently completed a Peace Wall in memory of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, and they have recently read a book called The Big Wave which is about a Japanese boy who lost his family in a tsunami.”

Olivia’s father later wrote a CSI pastor saying, “I write with good news about our fundraising project to assist your school. Participation by Olivia’s school was great. Many of the children ‘earned’ the money they contributed by doing extra jobs and projects in their homes and neighborhoods. All this during some of the worst weather we have had in a long time, temperatures at –18C with much snow. The total we will send will be USD 3,425. We hope this will go a long way toward assisting at least some of the needy children in Sri Lanka.”

The children of Sanderson Elementary School in Lancaster, Ohio, U.S.A. has donated $460 to the American Ceylon Mission and a school in the state of Virginia has send $440 by wire transfer to the American Ceylon Mission.

In Australia the Watson family were collecting money to buy a boat unit for families in Sri Lanka and Joshua (8 _ years), Jasmine (7 _), and Shaun (5) wanted to help so they contributed their pocket money. These children’s mother is one of the two Sri Lankan daughters of Trevor and Beverly Watson. Also, after children in a couple of Australian school read Beverly’s description of handing over the boats to fishermen in Chulipuram they raised enough money for one more boat unit.

At that occasion of the handing over of boats in Kaddupilam, Chulipuram, gifts from Uduvil Girls’ College students of school and personal supplies were given out to the village children. U.G.C. students have now collected more supplies and will be giving them to a tsunami-affected school. And Uduvil’s A/L students are hoping to go into the fishing villages to study ways of giving direct help to affected children in the manner that the A/L students at Jaffna College are doing. Their focus will be on the “soft” needs of the communities they visit.

On February 22 a group of 30 students from Jaffna College and 6 staff members, two Americans, one German, and three Tamil, spent the day in Manulkadu talking with residents of that town in order to get information as to what they need the most and how the students can help. At a preparatory meeting on the previous day the students and staff made plans for what they would do. They divided themselves into groups and each took a different age level to focus on: under 6 years, 6 to 11, 12 – 17, and18 and above. Their assignment was to collect information which was to be pooled and organized, and from which a few projects would be chosen to carry out. The students will be responsible for finding the funds necessary. The Jaffna College YMCA can be approached for small amounts and the JDCSI Tsunami Relief Committee has agreed to be open to funding larger proposals from the students. Lastly, the students are responsible for completing the projects with the villagers.

All the other A/L students at Jaffna College will be participating in similar projects since the curriculum requires all A/L students to do a group project. These village relief projects will fulfill that group requirement.

Bernard (Barney) Bate and Diane Faires told me what an exciting day they had on February 22 with the Jaffna College students in Manulkadu. After an initial period of uncertainty the students suddenly all disappeared in search of people of the age group they were responsible for. Barney was immensely impressed with the maturity and confidence with which the students went about their work. They encountered people who had tragic stories to tell and had to deal with that emotional situation. They have almost certainly gotten information that has not been recorded by anyone else, because who else would take the time to question such young children? This group is in the planning stage of their project.

I am sure that these stories could be multiplied many times over all over the world. In a time of great stress it is encouraging to see the compassion and energy of the next generation.

Grace Bunker

Grace is a missionary who serves with Jaffna Diocese (Sri Lanka) of the Church of South India. She teaches English at Jaffna College and also works with the Uduvil Girls’ School, where she works in the women’s training programs, which includes teaching English & tutoring women and working with women’s empowerment groups.