Helping schools in struggling countries one pencil at a time
CABARITA'S Stevie Bellamy is off to India again, to distribute funds collected through his charity The Pencil Tree to children in schools and orphanages.
Mr Bellamy will be joined by seven people from the region, including a doctor from Singapore.
Since The Pencil Tree was founded in 2014, the reach of the organisation has grown and it has taking on a life of its own, with Mr Bellamy hosting trips back to the sub-continent twice yearly.
"We don't stay long,” said Mr Bellamy ahead of his trip this week.
"We just go to deliver the goods. We are not trying to change the culture, we are just trying to help out where we can.”
Using funds collected from the sale of old mobile phones donated by the community as well as via other fundraisers, essentials such as clothes, pencils and books are delivered.
The charity works with locals to organise anything a school might need to help encourage children to attend, including see-saws and swing sets.
Funds this time - raised mainly through a garage sale at Cabarita - will be used to buy padded mats for the children to sit on in their make-shift tin classrooms, which turn into hot furnaces in the heat of the region.
"The children usually sit on hessian sacks,” Mr Bellamy said.
"That's not good for their health. Hopefully these mats will help.”
The Pencil Tree supports about 500 children across eight schools in Northern India and Nepal.
"I do it because it is the right thing to do,” Mr Bellamy said.
"The Dalai Lama said: "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; if you want yourself to be happy, practice compassion.”