A Few Dollars More

Australian volunteers Chris Smith and Tamara Lee organise a movie night to raise funds for the Sponsorship Programme.

Tamara and Chris volunteering in India.

In 2007 we made our first trip to Tamil Nadu to live in the remote village of Narikudi to teach English at a girls school managed by ODAM.  Here we fell in love with 68 girls, their village and their teachers. Our love affair with Narikudi has turned into a long term commitment to raise money in Australia to support the girls to stay at school longer.

We believe that education is the key to eliminating poverty for the women of India, and that by supporting the education of the girls at the Barathi Hostel Narikudi, they will have improved health, including maternal health, and reduced risk of a lifetime of abuse.

Prior to our first visit, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and families who helped us raise enough money to take teaching resources and purchase new dresses for all the students at Deepavali, a Hindu festival.

Prior to our second trip in 2009, we held another successful fundraising campaign, with thanks to friends, family and some wonderfully supportive local businesses. Kevin, from our local camping store, generously donates gift vouchers for the annual raffle we draw at the movie night.

Nikki is a local business lady who has her own long term love affair with India, having lived in India for many years, and established at school and TB Clinic. Now she’s opened a small boutique locally selling quality Indian handicrafts, including silk and handmade clothing and scarves. As part of last years fundraising efforts, Nikki donated a beautiful shawl for our online auction, raising more than double the shawl’s retail price.

School students with new clothes funded by Tamara and Chris

Nikki also set up a colourful stall of jewellery and clothes in the foyer of a local movie theatre where we held our Indian Movie Night. Not only did her presence fill the foyer with the flavours of India, but she also donated 10% of her revenue to the cause.

Our aim is to continue to send money to the school and hostel, to keep the girls we now know and love, at school longer. We also hope to raise the profile here in Australia, of the sponsorship program now available online.

It’s costly, and time consuming to get to India from Australia, and the reality of returning to the school to teach is being challenged by the demands of family life here. However, we can continue to raise much needed funds from here, and continue to promote the work of ODAM in everything we do.