Tena koutou e te whanau,
Ko tarahaoa te maunga
Ko Rangitata te awa
Ko endeavour te waka
No Christchurch ahau
Kei Geraldine taku kainga inaianei
Ko Denise toku mama
Ko Brent toku papa
Ko Maisie toku ingoa
No reira tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.
Kia ora school, my name is Maisie and I have just said my pepeha to you all. I spoke about my connections to Mount Peel and the Rangitata river, how I was born in Christchurch but I now live in Geraldine. I said that my mum's name is Denise and my dad is Brent and that I am Maisie. This pepeha was sent to me through google docs, where I then went and had the help of multiple teachers such as Mrs Linklater and Mr Titchener to learn my pepeha and the correct pronunciation. With my ability to read and write I could learn my pepeha in just two weeks and now here I am saying it to all of you. We are so lucky to be here at school 5 days a week, to have teachers who are highly trained but also very caring, we have access to books, pencils, computers, art supplies, outdoor education gear, clean warm classrooms and so much more. Without noticing at the time, it is because all of these resources that I am able to learn new things and share them with you here today. Now just imagine if 10% of the people in our school never had the chance to get an education. Imagine if approximately 60 of the 550 students sitting here today never learnt to read or write or do basic Maths. Imagine not having the opportunity and choice to learn a second language such as English the way that I am learning a second language, Maori to say my pepeha to you all. Now imagine that 45% of you had to work from the age of 5 in order to support your families. That approximately 270 of you worked every single day in order to help your family buy food, have a place to live, have clothes to wear and all your basic necessities. All of this is the reality for children in Cambodia every single day. 45% of children aged over 5 have to work to support their families, 10% will never have access to an education. When you put yourself into the shoes of others such as the children growing up in Cambodia today you start to realise how lucky we truly are to be living this life.
Recently I went to Cambodia on a trip that the school organised for me and 13 other students. We are all so grateful for this experience and learnt so much from the people we met and the places we went to. While in Cambodia I met a young girl at her local market that we stopped at, the first thing she said to me as we stepped off our air conditioned bus was “would you like to buy some Mango” after saying no thank you, as I was taught to, I carried on walking without thinking much of it. 5 minutes later she recognised me and came over again trying to get me to buy some mango, obviously she thought I was an easy target for her sale! We began to talk and I asked her questions about her life in Cambodia, she told me how she goes to school in the afternoon on the weekdays and in the morning and the weekends she works, selling fruit to pay for her education and support her family. Her name was Bow and she was just 10 years old. She was just 10 years old and she was working to pay for her own education. If she didn’t make enough money that morning then she wouldn’t get to school that afternoon, it was as simple as that. Bow spoke very good english, she introduced me to her family and told me about her favourite subjects at school, and in the end I did buy a mango off her. It is because of Bow and her kindness and also her struggles that made me come home and look deeper into what life was really like for the children of Cambodia and what people are doing to change this. I found that it is the people like you and I and charities that make the difference in the lives of children like Bow.
This is how I came to know about the charity the Cambodians Children’s Fund. They are a charity that has been running since 2004 and their approach is to help some of the poorest children in Cambodia get an education and become the leaders of tomorrow. CCF started off in 2004 helping just 45 children from the garbage dumps of Steung Meanchey to now having over 2000 children involved in their program. Their program involves educating children whose families are too poor to afford it, they aim to build the skills and confidence that they need to become the future leaders and spokespeople of their communities. However they rely on donations from people like you and I to keep their program running and to continue their amazing work in Cambodia. People like you and I can really make a difference in the lives of Cambodian children when joined with the hard work of the Cambodian Children’s Fund and I have a way that we can do just that.
I am going to be holding a clothing sale here in Geraldine. This will involve selling recycled clothing and all of the profits made will go to the Cambodian Children’s Fund charity. However in order for this to work I need your help! I need everyone to go home and sort through their draws and cupboards for clothes they no longer wear that you can then donate to be in the sale for other people to buy and enjoy. The clothes need to be in good condition and ones that fit for the ages 11 to 18, this is boys and girls included. Buying clothes in Geraldine for teenagers can be an issue with such a limited number of shops, the point of this sale is to first make a difference in the lives of children in Cambodia, secondly help the environment by recycling clothes and third give the people of Geraldine something to look forward to!
The relationships I have made with people in Cambodia such as Bow and the relationship I now have with the Cambodian Children’s fund charity is the reason why I want to do my bit to help make a difference. Everyday the relationships you have make an impact on you and the other people involved, whether this impact is positive or negative is entirely up to you. This is my stand to try and turn a simple conversation with a young Cambodian girl into a way I can positively impact many children just like her living in Cambodia.
I am sure everyone here loves a bargain and also would love to do something that will seriously change the lives of some of the kindest people I have met. No one deserves to miss out on getting an education so why not donate a bag of clothes or come to the sale and purchase a new shirt or pair of shorts? Because at the end of the day you have the power to make a difference and here is the perfect way to do just that. If you want to donate your old clothes then bring them to school and drop them off to the common room in the next two weeks or email me if you have any questions. I look forward to getting in touch with a lot of you about donating your clothes and I also hope to see a lot of you there at the sale. There will be more details about the dates and location coming very soon. Thank you school.