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Mates raise funds for dream school in India

Feb 22nd, 2012 | By | Category: Latest News, News


BUILDING DREAMS: Danny Pemberton (left) and Fish Radich making a diffence to the children of India

TWO travelling Wellingtonians helping children in Nilakottai, India, build their “dream school” have combined their skills to make a difference.

Danny Pemberton and Fish Radich have uploaded to YouTube a video titled Dream School highlighting the plight of Karunai-Dhan Primary School, after hearing of the school’s need for funding.

Pemberton arrived at the school in October last year to teach and has since left having helped raise money for a new school.

After arriving in India last October, his first six weeks were spent standing at the front of a classroom trying to make sense of his new role as a teacher.

“Early on, I was asked to take a lesson about animals and their offspring.

“I was so nervous that my hand was shaking as I stepped up to the blackboard and attempted to draw a dog. Should I draw just a head, or add a body, a wagging tail perhaps?

“Stepping back, I saw that I’d drawn a crude oval and two squares. I didn’t even know what it was meant to be, so what chance did the children have,” he says.

“In a moment of blind panic, I turned around and let out a great, ‘Woof,’. This had the desired effect. ‘Dog, dog’, shouted the children.”

In December his mate Radich arrived and an idea Pemberton had to leave the school with something positive suddenly seemed achievable.

“I’d been stewing on the idea for a while, but it was only once Fish arrived with two weeks left at the Illam that it started to seem plausible,” he says.

So the pair went to work on a video to publicise the fundraising.

“We had just over two weeks to do the entire project from conception to the final edit. However, I kept adding things in at the last minute and so the final edit was completed not at the orphanage but on a beach in Goa in early January.

“So far we have raised $10,000 of the necessary $15,000.”

Illam translates to “children’s home” and the purpose of the Karunai Illam Trust is to educate children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Karunai Illam is a New Zealand incorporated charitable trust and with local partner, Dhan Foundation, it provides schooling in South India.

“The New Zealand High Commission in Delhi has given a generous grant to support the project, and the school is supported by the Karunai Illam Trust which is largely run by New Zealand benefactors and supporters. So this is a very kiwi project,” says Pemberton.

“In a nutshell, the school aims to provide quality education for poor students. The video mentions that 15% of the pupils are living in poverty and their fees are subsidised by their fellow students.

“Their long-term objective is to increase this figure to 50% of their school roll, but in order for that to happen they need to establish their facilities first. That’s where we come in with our video.”

In 2008 the school opened with a roll of 33 children, now that has grown to 189.

Donations can be made here and the youtube video can be seen here.


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