Year nine students from Clunes’ Wesley College campus woke up at 4am last Friday August 24 in an effort to raise money for people living in the rural village of Sidinda, Zimbabwe.
For several years, students participating in The Clunes Journey, an eight week residential learning experience for students from Melbourne, have taken part in a program called Collective Potential, which involves working collaboratively to achieve a goal to help people in need.
The ‘Break the Cycle’ Collective Potential program has been running at the campus since the early 2000’s and although it has evolved over time, the key elements around students learning about global need while challenging themselves to act on it remain.
The key elements are worked on over three consecutive days. During the project, the students develop an understanding of the need for support in Sidinda and decide on what aspect of fundraising they will focus on. This term, students decided on obtaining and packing education and medical supplies. Then, the students designed a challenging task for which they were sponsored by friends and family. In this case, the students chose to ride mountain bikes up and down Mt Beckworth, with all money raised going towards providing supplies for the shipping container.
Clunes farmer Michelle Leishman, approached Wesley College with the idea a number of years ago when she worked there.
“Sidinda is a place in the middle of nowhere that nobody goes to. The people who live there have nothing. They have been physically beaten because they are part of the Madalibi people who voted against the government in the last election,” she said.
“So we thought to collect these fundamental supplies that everybody has a right to; medical aid and education.”
She said the students raise about $3000 for Sidinda each year and that they, along with she and her daughter who manage the fundraising, are the only donors to clinic.
“(The shipping container) is the best way to get supplies there as there is nothing around Sidinda,” she said.
So far, the students have assisted with collecting clothes, shoes, books, medical consumables like first aid kits, mattresses, wheelchairs and IV stands.
“Five to six thousand people visit the clinic and will use the supplies,” Ms Leishman said.
She said the fundraiser indicated that anybody could make a difference to the lives of others. It is hoped the 40 foot shipping container will be sent off by the middle of September.