Couple give children of the slums a chance
NEXT stop for Sue and Steve Lewis on their quest to help children in the Third World is India.
The Skennars Head couple, founders of Aussies for Orphans, are leading a 12-day tour starting on December 27 to kickstart their latest project, Destiny.
This project will help rescue disadvantaged children from Kalyanpuri and Yamuna River Slum in East Delhi from the streets.
Steve says children as young as four in the slums are forced to scavenge on garbage dumps for recyclable rubbish to survive, in constant danger of life-threatening disease, abuse and trafficking.
"The establishment of The Destiny Performing Arts Academy in East Delhi will provide children with a gift and passion for the arts the opportunity to receive vocational training in music, dance and drama," he said.
"We're really confident that it's a good project."
Twenty-two Australians on the tour have each donated $1000 to the project.
Sue and Steve started Aussies for Orphans in 2005.
With a team of big-hearted donors and volunteers, they have created real and lasting change in the lives of hundreds of disadvantaged children in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Nepal.
They choose to work with organisations which are already established in the countries of need.
"All the projects we've worked on, people have come to us with an Australian connection," Steve said.
"We have a really thorough funding application that people have to complete.
"We wanted to give to smaller projects that we could be involved in."
The devastating Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 was a catalyst for the establishment of Aussies for Orphans a year later.
Steve and Sue, along with their children Shani and Samuel, were in the village of Hikkaduwa on the south coast of Sri Lanka, making arrangements to build an orphanage when the tsunami hit.
"We first travelled to Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia because of the great surf," Steve said.
"In Sri Lanka we fell in love with not only the surf and great food but also the warm generosity of the people.
"It wasn't until we travelled back to Sri Lanka a number of times that we looked past our own holiday needs and realised how much the local people needed help."
Steve and Sue completed their first home for orphaned children in Kandy, Sri Lanka, in 2005.
"We make sure 100 per cent of tax-deductible donations go to the projects," Steve said.
"We believe that in helping organisations become self-sufficient, they can then foster the same values within the children in their care.
"Our aim is to provide children with a home environment, where they can gain access to health, education and life skills."
To find out more about Aussies for Orphans, visit the website www.aussiesfororphans.org or call toll free 1300 887 403.