Child sponsor goes the extra distance to help

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

When Rockingham resident Sarah Furness’ employer launched a scholarship program for staff to volunteer abroad, she jumped at the opportunity to help provide food and education for needy children in Africa.

Sarah, who works as an executive assistant at Challenger Institute of Technology, travelled to the Kenyan capital Nairobi in September and spent a week at the Limuru Children’s Centre. Sarah helped the Centre’s teacher with her 24 students aged between 3 and 10 years.

“I already sponsor two children, one in Ethiopia and another in Rwanda, and then this opportunity came up in Africa in an area I knew was in need and I decided to offer my help,” Sarah explained.

Challenger Institute recently launched the scholarships as part of its corporate social responsibility program, Challenger Cares.

Staff members have been given the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to subsidise the cost of volunteering for an international aid project.

The Limuru Children’s Centre provides support for children from the neighbouring villages who are in need of food, health care and basic education. The centre also provides accommodation for up to 20 abused children.

“While I was there I helped teach the children basic maths and English, helped distribute food for their feeding program, and spent time playing with the kids and making them feel special,” said Sarah.

“I loved being a part of the children’s lives for that week and also getting to know more about their individual stories. It was amazing to be able to help in some way and to continue to assist them in the future.”

This was not Sarah’s first volunteering experience; she spent four months volunteering at Mercy Indonesia, assisting with administrative duties and working in a local Indonesian school.

She also took on a street chaplaincy role in Northbridge on Saturday nights, working closely with the police to offer counseling and advice to those in need.

Sarah said she felt privileged to have been able to assist the Limuru Children’s Centre and is investigating ways to provide ongoing support such as supplying school uniforms and sending the kids Christmas gifts.

“I’m hoping to personally sponsor one particularly bright young boy to attend one of the local schools to gain a more advanced education, rather than just the basic education provided at the centre,” she said.

“The best thing for me is in knowing I can make a difference to these people’s lives, even if it is small.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Sarah Furness with some of the children from Limuru Children's Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Back to Top