Child protection, resilience, leadership, helping those in need – just some of the themes that ACG Tauranga students digested while learning about the international charity Flame this month.
Founded by Kiwis Sue Hanna and Nicola and Graeme Winthrop, Flame works with children living in slums in Cambodia. It provides education, housing, health and other support for children to enable them to go on to become leaders in their communities. “We are relentless in our belief that their shattered past must not determine their future but increase their resilience, that ultimately they can become the leaders of their generation,” the charity says.
Sue and Nicola visited the school to speak to Year 9 and 10 students about their work and experiences – with a focus on the importance of care and compassion and recognising that many of us are in very privileged positions.
Some of our students told us what they had learnt:
It was eye opening to learn how these children are treated, being sold and used unfairly for others gain. One boy in particular was chained next to a tree, and was expected to earn money through sympathy. When the boy continued to earn money, his captors starved him, feeding him the bare minimum. Flame’s job is to find and save these children, give them a better up-bringing and safer conditions to live in. For example, the poor boy who was once being starved and used on the streets for others gain, is now happy and healthy, and tending to others needs as a doctor. Flame described this process as a circle, after being saved, you make yourself a living through attending school then you come back around and help other slum-living children in desperate need of help.
Flame plans to improve these children’s lives by offering them education that will help them get proper jobs and hopefully they will return to help other children in the slums. This was a real eye-opener for children our age and they seem to be doing a great job improving these children’s lives.
We were informed about the work they put into changing the life of kids from living in the slums, trafficked, and sold – to getting proper education and reaching their potential. It was an eye-opening experience for us as the younger generation to learn about the current events of the world and to see what we can do, and what is being done to help. Flame’s goal is to go into more slums, help more children and inspire more leaders who will then go and do the same for others in need.
A special connection
Sue is also the sister of Dave Hanna, ACG Tauranga’s Year 3 and 4 teacher, who himself has a special connection with the charity. When Esther, a Cambodian child living in the slums, was asked to take a photo of herself, she took a photo of her shadow. She felt that was how other people viewed her when they saw her.
Flame helped her to grow her talent for photography and, in 2015, Mr Hanna visited Cambodia and was able to gift Esther her own camera. She is now the official photographer for the Flame organisation; most of the photos on the Flame website are hers.