The Gift of Education

As part of a continuing series, The Parents' Website celebrates the great community work by Independent school students and staff.

Newhaven College has a long-standing tradition of Year 12 students selecting a charity to support. This year, a student’s family connection to a powerful and impressive cause provided a compelling choice.

Year 12 student Jaz Hendry put together a proposal for the school to support Bryn’s School, which builds schools in disadvantaged regions around the world.

Jaz is the niece of Janine Hendry, whose son Bryn took his life at age 16 in 2003. In her grief and profound sadness, she decided that she would not let her son’s life go unnoticed.

An academic, she knew the value of education and that for most mothers, providing that education for their children was a driving force. Yet through her travels, she also knew in many parts of the world, there was no school available.

Ms Hendry decided to honour her son by building a school in Vietnam, in conjunction with World Vision. The junior school today educates up to 400 students a day.

When Ms Hendry and her extended family visited the school for the first time, they were inspired. Realising the need was much greater than one school, they set out to build 16 schools, one for each year of Bryn’s life.

Thirteen years later, a further five schools have been built, in Sierra Leone, Kenya, South Sudan, Cambodia and Vietnam, educating about 1200 children.  The family leads teams of volunteers who work with local builders, and live in communities while the school is built. Once completed, the school is provided with on-going support.

Bryn’s School inspired the Year 12 students of Newhaven, who have managed to raise more than $12,000, with one of the fundraising highlights a recent Trivia Night run by the college captains and the Year 12 Cabinet members.

‘The 2016 Year 12 Cabinet have surpassed their expectations and raised an impressive amount of money for Bryn’s School,’ says Newhaven Vice Principal Jason Scott. ‘The success of the evening was entirely due to their selfless giving of time and energy and the leadership skills they showed.

‘Young people have busy and complicated lives balancing their academic, sporting, part-time employment and family commitments.

‘However, they also recognise the unique position that they have to help other people who live in less fortunate and prosperous circumstances.’

Bryn’s School has been both delighted and overwhelmed by the support received from the students of Newhaven College.

The money will be used as seeding funding for Bryn School’s Number Seven, likely to be built in Cambodia.

To seek support and information about suicide prevention contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Main image: the Year 12 students at Newhaven College celebrate their fundraising success.

If you would like to see a great example of community work from a Member School featured, contact the editor of The Parents’ Website, Shane Green, at shane.green@is.vic.edu.au

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