Year 11 Service in Action

Sophie Stocker and Ben Scanlon —

The following is a speech delivered in Chapel by Sophie Stocker and Ben Scanlon about the Year 11 students’ work with the Refugee Centre:

“This year Ben and I have the privilege of being leaders in the Year 11 service group. Maybe it sounds boring, but we, along with the service team, get to use our creative ideas to bring fun and influence into the lives of our community. There are five co-service leaders: Holly Rowan-Sanders, Hugo Shale, Georgia Hopkins, Gustav Jooste and David Koshy – along with around 40 students who are involved in the Year 11 Service team. Together, we are able to achieve service goals, which sometimes includes free pizza! This year, our goal was to make service as fun as possible, to draw more students into beneficial service. Our main focus is the Refugee Centre, based in Frankton. They are in desperate need of a van to transport the refugee children to and from the after-school programme, where they are given the opportunity to learn and develop their skills. For some of the children, this is the best part of their day.

To help them out, we have come up with many different ideas to fundraise. Some of these ideas include mufti days and Guinness World Records, but we won’t give too much away. Not only are they lacking simple transport, they are also deprived of education and can only imagine what it would be like to have the privileges we have every day at St Paul’s. These children are excited to learn. When were you last excited to take a maths test? The service group has recognised their willingness to learn, which is why we decided to lend some helping hands. Four days a week, generous students from St Paul’s give up their afternoons for an hour to give the children learning opportunities they’ve never had, and by doing this, we are giving them hope for a better future. We help them to learn simple things like English and maths, and we play games with them.

Games – did that word catch your attention? It probably didn’t, but if you were to say that to a twelve-year-old refugee girl from Sudan, who has missed out on her childhood, she would be jumping off the walls in excitement. She is just one of the thousands of children who has never played a board game because, instead, she has been fighting for her life. She’s not the only one. Millions of children and their families are forced out of their homes in places like Colombia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, Algeria and Africa. You’ve constantly heard about the refugee crisis in chapel services, even I can admit, I don’t always listen. But refugees are not just characters in a service speech, they’re not even just refugees. They’re families: brothers, sisters, teachers, doctors, veterans, engineers and individuals. The children who go to the after-school programme, some of the children open up to us and share their stories, which shows us the difference that St Paul’s is making in their lives. It may seem like we are just some average Year 11 students helping them with their homework, but to them, we are role models. They look up to us and you can tell by the look on the children’s faces as you walk into the classroom, just how important we are to them. Their eyes light up and their smiles grow, just knowing that they are about to learn some more. Most of these kids have never had the chance to learn like they have now, and with some patience, we have learnt that they are all extremely smart and are perfectly capable of being future leaders. I can honestly say that some of us learn more from them, than they do from us.

Today’s chapel service is based on board games. Many of us will remember the thrill of playing games like Twister, Connect-Four, Knuckles and Guess Who?, as children. We would love to give the refugee children that same opportunity and add some excitement into their lives. Up on the screen, there is a list of board games that they wish to play, and I believe we can make it come true. If you have any children’s games lying in your cupboard at home that you don’t need anymore, please bring them in to the Rev, Mr Foot, Sophie or me whenever you can, and we’ll pass them onto the Refugee Centre. They don’t have to be the ones on the list, they’ll be grateful for anything they receive. This is your opportunity to get involved in a little bit of service, and something you take for granted, will make a child’s day.”

The following Year 11 students have been involved in this extremely rewarding and satisfying initiative this year:

Sophie Stocker, Ben Scanlon, Holly Rowan-Sanders, Georgia Hopkins, Hugo Shale, Gustav Jooste, David Koshy, Campbell Robb, Travis Cashmore, Ashleigh Kroef, Sammy Bryant, Amelia Hunt, Kitty Storey, Reuben Hunt, Brooke Batters, Julian Harker, Sam Kalma, Lachlan Coleman, Cooper Robinson, Ayla Hall, Libby Deadman, Molly Nelson, Kaley Caulfield, Lily-Rose Andreef, Curtis Sheeran, Jai Fitzwalter, Matthew Forward, Lachie Steer, Amelia Reid, Macey Walsh, Havila Molia, Mark McCluskey, Justin Su, David Gough, William McNeil, Sarah Stewart, George Kingsnorth, Thomas Bayley, Andrew Yip and Nicola Boyd