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Kiwis finance school for refugee children in Bhutan

For immediate release
20 June 2014

On World Refugee Day, Kiwis finance school for refugee children in Bhutan

It’s Friday the 20th June. World Refugee Day. Around the world, awareness is being raised for the marginalised and soul-destroying living conditions of 14 million refugees around the world. Yet, here down-under, an initiative is being spearheaded by Kiwis to make the world a better place for some of its refugees.

A community of impoverished refugee families in the land-locked Bhutan (South Asia), have had their cries for help answered. New Zealand charity Orphans Aid International, have begun a project to build a school and centre to help members of this desperate people-group.

The children of the outcast refugee group are at high risk of trafficking and abuse – not to mention malnutrition and illiteracy. Founder and chief executive of New Zealand’s Orphans Aid International, Sue van Schreven says the situation had been “desperate”. As well as managing projects caring for orphans and abandoned children in India, Russia, Romania and Uganda, the charity had asked Kiwis to give towards building a school in a recent appeal.

“The response was over-whelming, and we’ve been able to raise enough money for the initial build” van Schreven says. She has recently returned from the region with foundation work having begun.

The school, set to open later this year, will not only serve to educate, but also to feed the children, and provide medical help through a Doctor the charity employs in the area. The initial roll would be 60 children, but this would soon grow.

The recent building progress was captured on video with New Zealand film-maker and journalist Rob Harley already working to bring the story to our national television screens later in 2014.

This isn’t the first time New Zealand has stepped in to help Bhutanesse refugees. In fact with 100,000 Bhutanese refugees having lived in United Nations refugee camps in Southeastern Nepal since the early 1990s, New Zealand has been part of a resettlement programme for the refugees and has accepted more than 330 of the Bhutanese refugees since 2007, settling them in Christchurch and Palmerston North.

It’s the efforts of Kiwis in New Zealand, and those working abroad which today have received praise from New Zealand Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, “It’s appropriate today to reflect on the global refugee challenge, and acknowledge the number of Kiwis who are helping in different ways, both in New Zealand and around the world”. Something Orphans Aid International chief executive Sue van Schreven is so pleased her charity and its supporters are a part of.

This year is the significant 10th anniversary year for Orphans Aid International, now caring for around 700 orphans and abandoned children every day. The home-grown New Zealand charity is making its mark around the world – thanks to its generous supporters and advocates. To learn more about this project or to make a contribution towards the work, please visit the www.orphansaidinternational.org website.


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