An Opawa schoolgirl who busked for East Timor has had an unexpected reward for her efforts.
Caitlin Ryburn, 10, a year six student at St Martins School, busked for a total of seven hours outside a St Martins supermarket at Christmas to raise money for a Christian World Service partner, Dominican Missionary Sisters, in East Timor. She raised just over $500.
On Monday she met Alcina Nunes, 19, and Fidelio da Cruz Beno Silva, 23, orphans cared for by the missionary sisters. Alcina and Fidelio were in Christchurch for the Global Youth Encounter, a Christian World Service youth conference on peace and violence prevention. The three met by a narrow margin – Caitlin arrived back at school on Monday after a holiday in England and Alcina and Fidelio flew home the next day.
“I never expected to ever meet some young people from the orphanage. It’s really exciting,” Caitlin said.
Meeting Alcina and Fidelio helped her understand more of East Timor and its people. She learnt that young East Timorese and New Zealanders have vast differences in education. Education is denied to the poorest East Timorese if families cannot afford school fees, books and uniforms or exam fees.
Caitlin said it wasn’t fair East Timor students had to pay large school fees when New Zealand students didn’t. “I don’t think it’s fair either way. If we don’t have to pay they shouldn’t have to pay. But if they have to pay we should probably pay as well.”
Alcina was amazed at the differences between St Martins School and her school in Dili, East Timor’s capital. New Zealand schools have many more resources, including computers in every classroom. Alcina’s school has only one computer – which is in the principal’s office – no playground equipment, murals or pictures in the classrooms. Few out-of-class activities like music lessons are available. Teaching is done with only a blackboard and chalk.
Alcina was surprised St Martins School students asked her and Fidelio lots of questions. “They are not shy like East Timorese.”
Alcina was surprised a New Zealand schoolgirl was concerned about her orphanage in East Timor. “She’s one girl but she has expressed her interest in the orphans of East Timor and our place.
“We would like to thank you for helping care for our children in East Timor, especially those of the Dominican community and orphans. You did a great job,” Alcina told Caitlin.
Caitlin’s money was used to help school some of the 52 children at the orphanage, and for the small farm the sisters run.
She was surprised at Alcina and Fidelio’s level of English, which is their fourth language.
At home in Dili, Alcina studies communications at the national university and hopes to be a journalist. Fidelio studies civil engineering.
Despite their differences, the three laughed together, shared stories about sports and swapped email addresses.
Alcina and Fidelio promised to tell friends at the orphanage about Caitlin’s efforts.
After meeting Alcina and Fidelio, Caitlin says she’ll more than likely busk again this Christmas – and will encourage her friends to do the same.