St John's Campbelltown teachers head to Zambia

Making a difference: Sarah Selwood, Kathryn Hampton, Elise Laidlaw, Rebecca Sanders, April Portelli and Caitlin Morgan. Picture: Jess Layt

Making a difference: Sarah Selwood, Kathryn Hampton, Elise Laidlaw, Rebecca Sanders, April Portelli and Caitlin Morgan. Picture: Jess Layt

Six local teachers won’t be taking a break from children these upcoming school holidays – they’ll be spending time with even more.

Teachers at St John the Evangelist Catholic Parish Primary School will spend the school holiday break making a difference in underprivileged children’s lives in the African nation of Zambia.

The trip was organised by Bow Bowing’s Sarah Selwood, who first visited Africa to help establish a library three years ago.

She knew that her first trip would not be the last.

“When you’re over there you’re exposed to the kind of life they lead and see how much we can take for granted,” Ms Selwood said.

“I remember a little boy saying, ‘Sarah, look at my house’.

“We were walking past what, in Australia, we’d probably call a tip.

“I asked, ‘where is your house?’. He pointed at a one metre by one metre piece of cardboard under a small bit of tin, and that was where he slept every night.

“Things like that stay with you – it changed who I was.”

Ms Selwood brought the idea of a St John’s staff trip to Zambia back to the school, and the idea was approved by the principal and the Catholic Education Office as an ‘immersion experience’.

Now Ms Selwood and her fellow teachers – who hail from Ruse, Gregory Hills, Narellan Vale, Bradbury, Spring Farm and Camden – will join two Edmonson Park residents and a representative of the Wollongong Catholic Education Office on the trip to teach Zambian children in their villages.

“It’s not about coming in and changing the way they live,” Ms Selwood said.

Fundraiser: The coins donated by St John's pupils spelled out the word Zambia. Picture: Sarah Selwood

Fundraiser: The coins donated by St John's pupils spelled out the word Zambia. Picture: Sarah Selwood

“It’s about helping them to live a happier life.

“Nothing makes me happier than helping people.”

The teacher has been overwhelmed by the level of support her cause has garnered in the St John’s community.

The efforts of all students, staff, parents and the wider community will be felt on the trip, as the group donates $1500 worth of goods raised in fundraisers held at the school.

Ms Selwood said she was extremely proud of the kids who offered to donate their toys to the children in need.

“The support from five or six-year-olds to 12 or 13-year-olds has been unbelievable,” she said.

“I never expected this level of support.”

One of the teachers taking part, Kathryn Hampton, has also hand-made 150 dresses to give to the Zambian children.

Ms Selwood said she was extremely thankful to the entire school community for their generosity and couldn’t wait to come back and share how their donations had made a difference.

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