Burning desire to help

STUMBLING across a group of Nepali children huddled around a fire of burning plastic led Hilton local James Spence to set up Breaking Poverty.

“It was freezing and I had a jacket, hat, gloves, scarf and boots on. These kids had shorts, a shirt and thongs on,” Spence says, noting a small child was shivering under a mound of plastic bags.

Warning the youngsters about toxic fumes emitted by burning plastic was futile as they had no other way of keeping warm.

The next day he bought thick fabric at a market, had it cut into pieces and took the “blankets” to the kids.

“Five years later a couple still have those rugs,” he says.

Back home Spence linked up with mate Julian Silburn to create Breaking Poverty Through Education Nepal, raising funds to send Nepali youngsters to school.

Just $7 a month pays for school, uniforms and stationery, and so far the pair’s efforts have placed 32 kids in the education system.

They also provide families with money for food and medicine and other expenses.

Two children per family are taken into the program.

• Julian Silburn with a Tibetan artwork. Photo by Jenny D’Anger

“It has to be a boy and a girl,” Spence says.

The pair has linked up with Rotary WA and Education Nepal with a view to extending the program and attaining tax-donation status.

They are holding a fundraiser at the Fremantle Yoga Centre at the E-Shed Markets.

Along with some salutary yoga, there’ll be a gritty and enlightening talk by Spence on his work in Nepal, and a traditional vegan Nepali meal.

There’s also world music by Silburn (Sound Alchemy), Flamenco guitarist Anthony Lindhjem, Charles Snelleksz-Mathelot and Freo musician Sophie Moleta.

A painting by local artist David Giles, valued at around $2000 is up for auction, along with other prominent WA artists’ works and a series of traditional Tibetan paintings.

It’s on Saturday March 24, from 5.45pm. Entry $35 with a meal, $30 without.

For more information or to donate goods or money, phone James Spence on 0468 394 486.


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