Hali leaves comforts far behind
Giving up makeup, flushing toilets and showers for a month is a price Hali Purcell is happy to pay to help the children of Burma.
The St Lukes Body Shop store manager is travelling to a Thai village called Mae Sot, on the border of Thailand and Burma, with the charity Children on the Edge.
“Instead of doing an OE I wanted to do something like this,” she says.
The non-profit organisation was founded by Body Shop creator Dame Anita Roddick, and employees can apply to travel overseas on the volunteer programmes.
Miss Purcell found out about the trips shortly after she started working at the store five months ago and decided to apply.
Her role will be teaching children in schools and boarding houses basic school- work from the Children on the Edge curriculum.
“A lot of these kids aren’t allowed to be there, they are illegal immigrants from Burma.”
She says people fleeing the violence and unrest try to get refugee status in Thailand.
If they don’t get it, they can be exploited by employers and have no right to things like education because they are in the country illegally.
As part of her application, Miss Purcell had to undergo police, safety and referee checks and learn how to behave with the children.
She leaves in February with another Body Shop worker from Christchurch.
The company covers some of their living costs, inoculations and insurance, but they need to raise money for flights and expenses.
“I want to leave a lot of stuff behind like sports equipment. Everyone thinks work books and pencils but I want to leave mosquito nets and mats.
“I saw a picture of nap time and they were lying on the concrete.”
To achieve her goal, Miss Purcell plans to raise at least $2000, but would like to double that amount to better help the children.
“Even an extra $500 would make a world of difference.”
She is nervous about heading to an area with so much unrest, but says the more she learns about the people’s struggle, the more she wants to help.
“How can you find out this much about these people, have the chance to help and not take it?”
Children on the Edge national manager Shelly Mansfield says the teachers also benefit from the volunteers, who give them new ideas on how to teach English.
“Volunteers add a bit of spice to the daily school rituals and bring in additional resources.”
To help raise money for the trip, massage therapist Luke Heales has volunteered to give massages for note donations tomorrow night at the St Lukes Body Shop, from 5pm to 9pm. Miss Purcell and Newmarket store manager Cara Aloia are holding an old-fashioned bake sale outside the Body Shop on Broadway, Newmarket, on Sunday from 11am.
She has also set up a bank account at the BNZ Bank for people wanting to donate. The account name is COTE and the number is 02-031603564-68-097.
Reaching out: Body Shop store manager Hali Purcell is going to help the children of Burma with charity Children on the Edge.