|Photo: Christy Burton|
Innisfil's Suzanne Dobinson relaxes at home with
one of the bedkits she helped distribute in Honduras.
... from The Barrie Advance & Simcoe.com,
January 29, 2008
Author: Christy Burton
The air is filled with excitement as the visitors climb out of the two cars, leaving behind thoughts of the rut-filled mud roads that had chattered their teeth for kilometres.
About 20 makeshift shanties are scattered before them. The stone and plaster shelters are joined together under terra cotta clay roofs.
Curious adults cautiously approach the well-travelled vehicles and their emerging cargo. The hamlet’s children are much more adventurous, joyfully accepting the stickers and flags the visitors offer.
One of the visitors to this remote Honduran village sends a flurry of bubbles into the air to their raucous delight. Innisfil’s Suzanne Dobinson is no stranger to facing poverty head on. She knows what an icebreaker the bubbles and toys can be, and she smiles at the cheerful faces of the hosts who are about to be blessed by some very important gifts.
There are six visitors altogether from ‘Sleeping Children Around the World’ (SCAW).
One is Barrie’s Harry Gauthier. He is, as always, snapping pictures, recording the inspiring events.
Harry and Suzanne and the others they travelled with aren’t being paid to help distribute 4,500 bed kits to children. In fact, much of the thousands of dollars required to get to and from the remote village came from their own pockets.
|SCAW Team with Hoduras First Lady|
From Honduras 2007 Photo Album
SCAW is a registered Canadian charity started by the parents of hockey legend Ken Dryden. Murray Dryden (now deceased) went without benefit of a bed himself during the Great Depression.
He knew first hand what it was like having to sleep on the ground. He believed ‘the comfort of a bed is a basic right of every child.’ He and his wife Margaret (also deceased) initially provided bedkits to 50 children in India in 1970.
The organization they began flourished, and to date has provided bedkits for more than 800,000 children in 31 countries. The organization helps destitute children get a good night’s sleep to go along with school supplies that come with their ‘bed’.
Dobinson says SCAW is a fantastic organization. Every element of each bed kit is purchased in the distribution location in order to improve the local economy, and 100 per cent of donations go towards the kits, she says. All administrative costs are covered by an investment account set up by Murray Dryden.
“SCAW connects with established service groups in countries where the income per person is $2,000 or less per year. The groups are responsible for getting the beds from the factories to the schools to be distributed.”
Each bedkit is worth about $30 Canadian. Each contains a small covered mattress, pillow and sheet rolled around a new outfit and supplies including writing and reading materials.
“It varies by country depending on what the money in that country will buy,” Dobinson explains.
“I’ve seen some kits from India that have maybe 30 things in their kit. They get maybe a pail for their family so they don’t have to bail water and use the same pail for other things. They really appreciate the books because they have to buy all those things for school.”
Back in Tegucigalpa (pronounced Teh-gooch-ee-GALP-a), the area’s Rotary Club, made up of Honduran doctors, lawyers and other professionals, helped hand out bedkits to thrilled young students. Suzanne assists, making sure to make contact with each child.
|Suzanne in Honduras|
From Honduras 2007 Photo Album
“He was about 12 years old,” she notes. “He worked so hard. He was such a nice kid. He got to know who would want what. He would see a little girl coming along and he would grab a pink one and a teddy bear one and bring them up to the door. It was just so sweet.”
Dobinson says the money she spent on her trip gave her a great opportunity to see the difference she was making.
“In Canada we have so much more than people in developing countries. We have a welfare system, hostels, food banks, and it’s needed and well used, but the countries I go to don’t have that sort of thing. One mother told me she sells (gum) on the street for $3 a day, and she has several children. She said there was no way she was going to let her children quit school like so many others. I’m so blessed that I need to give back, be of service elsewhere. The other selfish part is that you get back way more than you give. It feels like the world is so much smaller.”
For more information or to buy a bedkit for a child go online , email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (416) 231-1841.