Bet­ter lives ahead

Chil­dren saved from beg­ging, liv­ing rough

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By SUE FEA

Queen­stown char­ity founder Sue van Schreven felt ‘‘ more fa­mous than One Di­rec­tion’’ on her visit to In­dia.

Per­haps she should be. Her lat­est ‘‘hit’’ fades theirs into in­signif­i­cance.

The Or­phans Aid In­ter­na­tional founder and Lake Hayes mother of two is now build­ing a school for des­per­ate refugee chil­dren in Bhutan.

She’s also just vis­ited the Or­phans Aid projects in the Kolkata (for­merly Cal­cutta) area where food, medicine and ba­sic school­ing is pro­vided.

‘‘A fight erupts over a bis­cuit when we ar­rive there and there’s all this scream­ing. The kids are sit­ting in a tin shed all want­ing to touch me. They know I’m feed­ing them. I felt more fa­mous than One Di­rec­tion,’’ van Schreven said.

Many of the chil­dren Or­phans Aid res­cues in In­dia have been traf­ficked into slav­ery or pros­ti­tu­tion and are liv­ing on the streets.

‘‘When the girls get to around 13, they’re ei­ther taken by traf­fick­ers or raped at night on the streets, used by the lo­cal men at night, be­cause they don’t be­long to any­body,’’ she said.

Sev­eral years ago, Or­phans Aid founded a lit­tle school in Jaigaon, near the Bhutanese bor­der. It also now funds a lo­cal doc­tor to care for the fam­i­lies.

Last year the Bhutanese Bud­dhist com­mu­nity gave 388sqm of land to Or­phans Aid to be set aside for the 200 chil­dren and about 700 adults be­tween In­dia and Bhutan, who have no real ci­ti­zen­ship or rights.

The land is in a high earthquake risk zone in an area hit by tor­ren­tial down­pours and mon­soons, so van Schreven said the ini­tial build­ing plans had to be re­vis­ited to en­sure the school site was sta­ble.

The first stage of the $52,000, 250sqm school build­ing project should be com­pleted later this year.

‘‘Ini­tially it will cater for 50 to 60 chil­dren and one of our key work­ers in Cal­cutta is train­ing up the teach­ers.

‘‘Orig­i­nally we thought we could do it for $7000 but that would have been sub-stan­dard, a tin shed. In the ex­treme heat over there that would be like plac­ing the chil­dren in a fry­ing pan or sauna to learn,’’ van Schreven said.

The chil­dren will also be fed at school and given med­i­cal care.

A play­ground will be built on more land on a hill top.

Or­phans Aid’s Christ­mas ap­peal raised the ini­tial fund­ing but van Schreven said there would be on­go­ing costs and any do­na­tions would ap­pre­ci­ated.

‘‘It helps break the cy­cle of poverty. These par­ents are just so grate­ful for even an an­tibi­otic or Pan­mol pre­scrip­tion. It’s re­ally life-chang­ing for their com­mu­nity.’’


hugely ◗ Or­phans Aid, now a world­wide char­ity cloth­ing, feed­ing and pro­tect­ing thou­sands of aban­doned chil­dren in Ro­ma­nia, Rus­sia and In­dia, cel­e­brates its 10th an­niver­sary in July. Vol­un­teer lead­ers from across Cen­tral Otago and the Queen­stown Lakes District are in­vited to a net­work­ing ses­sion be­ing held to­mor­row.

Co-or­di­nated by Vol­un­teer­ing Cen­tral the ses­sion is be­ing held af­ter re­quests for more op­por­tu­ni­ties to net­work by people re­cruit­ing, sup­port­ing and man­ag­ing vol­un­teers. The ses­sion is 12.30 till 1.30pm. Fur­ther de­tails at vol­un­teer­ing cen­

The fu­ture: Or­phans Aid chief ex­ec­u­tive Sue van Schreven with Bhutanese chil­dren on the site of the new school.

Bet­ter life: Sue van Schreven vis­its a hospi­tal for aban­doned chil­dren, who now re­ceive a daily meal and ba­sic school lessons. Un­til late last year their only food came from beg­ging and lo­cal rubbish bins.

Homed: Sue van Schreven with Mi­nat, 13, and Taj Priyesh, 6 or 7, out­side the home Or­phans Aid pro­vides for them and other chil­dren res­cued from liv­ing on the streets.

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