Dal student helps make Future for Five

Emily Churchill has created a charity for disabled orphans in Thailand

Emily Churchill in one of the Future for Five T-shirts, with artwork done by the children (Photo: Dane Butler)

The names Bee, Anna, Joy and Samon may not mean anything to the person on the street, but they are four of the young orphans people can support through the new charity Future for Five.

The charity is the idea of first-year Dalhousie science student, Emily Churchill. After graduating high school Churchill knew she wanted to spend some time volunteering, so she spent a year in Thailand, working with orphans with disabilities. She called her experience working at the Rainbow House orphanage in Pakkred "very fulfilling."

When she returned to Canada Churchill began researching fundraising ideas. At first she thought of selling cinnamon rolls, but she wanted to do something that would contribute funds on an ongoing basis. The idea for Future for Five came to her during a car ride back to Halifax from New Brunswick.

"But it didn't take total effect until I learned of the passing away of one of the children I worked with while I was over there and that's when it kind of set it into motion," Churchill says.

T-shirts for sale

Aside from taking donations, Future for Five focuses on selling T-shirts.

The T-shirts have an outline of Thailand on the front, with the name of the child the shirt corresponds to and all five needs listed on the back.

There are five shirts representing five different needs:

• Bee needs physiotherapy due to her cerebral palsy
• Anna has a cleft pallet and needs a speech therapist to help her communicate better
• Joy has digestive problems and needs a nutritionist-with funds also allotted to purchase any special ingredients he may need
• Samon has an undiagnosed mental health disorder. A specialist is needed to diagnose her and recommend treatment
• The fifth represents the need for English language training

The ability to speak English can open many doors that being disabled closed for these orphans.

"If there's an excess of money then it will go towards the other kids that share a similar disability," Churchill says. "So, for example, Bee, she needs to learn how to walk. If there's an extra physio hired at the orphanage, which is what I'm hoping will happen with the money, then that'll benefit all the kids, it won't just benefit her."

The nutritionist that will be hired for Joy will also be able to evaluate the diets of all of the children.

"I chose the children based on what sort of disabilities they had and goals that could be reached," Churchill says. "There are a lot of kids who have disabilities at this orphanage but there's not a feasible way to make their life a lot better. So I try to choose five kids that had the ability to improve to a better quality of life with the donations made."

Future for Five making progress

Churchill began work on the Future for Five website in August, and started to spread word of the project through friends, the website and Facebook. The Facebook page currently has 373 members and is updated frequently with the progress of the fundraising.

Aside from word of mouth, Churchill, with help from her friends, has discussed the charity at speaking engagements at high schools and youth rallies.

She has also operated a booth in the Student Union Building at Dalhousie University, and her friend, Victoria Bell, recently ran a booth at Mount Saint Vincent University.

Bell expressed nothing but admiration for Churchill, describing her as "wonderful" and "amazing" and "committed."  Bell also credits Churchill with helping to influence her own choice to volunteer in Nepal.

Churchill was able to purchase her first order of 300 shirts with the help of loans from friends, with the promise they would get their money back by Oct. 15, which they did. So far 200 T-shirts have been sold at $22 each.

The T-shirts can be purchased online, though there's four dollar shipping charge if you're not in the Halifax area.

Churchill's goal is to raise the equivalent of C$600 before Christmas. This is enough to meet some needs, such as English lessons, for an entire year. For some other needs the amount will cover a few months.

A representative from Christian Care Foundation for Children with Disabilities in Thailand (CCD) will ensure that the money Churchill raises goes toward the corresponding child and need.

"The kids mean a lot of me and what's inspiring is to meet people who don't have the personal relationship that I have and yet they still have such a desire to help, and that encourages me everyday."




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