A Gala Dinner to Free Child Slaves
“If I was in their situation, I’d want to know that there was someone out there who cared enough to help me” said Year 9 Rural Campus student Levi Chong-Nee who earlier this year, raised enough money to free two child slaves.
For Levi, this whole journey started with being made aware of the huge world-wide issue and billion dollar industry that is human trafficking. He learnt about this in his Christian Living class and was immediately driven to do something about it. At Dilworth, Year 9 students are required to work on their own service-based project, and this provided Levi with the perfect opportunity to work on something that he was truly passionate about.
Initially, he thought about just running a classic Kiwi sausage sizzle to raise money for the cause that he could then donate to Child Recue – a charity who work to free children from slavery and human trafficking. But Levi’s teacher Claire van Dam, encouraged him to think bigger and not sell himself short because she knew he was capable of so much more.
They came up with the idea to hold a Gala Dinner at the Dilworth Rural Campus with the goal being to raise enough money to rescue one child slave. This required raising at least $1,500. Levi organised everything from spot prizes through to entertainment, but he needed to initially raise enough money to cover a number of costs including catering. He contacted various local businesses to see if they could help in any way.
Although this proved to be challenging, Levi said it taught him to stay positive and persevere, even in the face of rejection. His teacher Claire van Dam said it was disheartening hearing him being turned down or having sponsorships fall through, but she was incredibly impressed with his resilience and ability to bounce back and carry on.
Levi spoke at the local church and managed to sell forty tickets on the first day they were on sale. He exceeded his goal of raising $1,500 and instead raised enough money to rescue not just one but two child slaves as well as having money left over to donate to the charity’s celebration fund, which goes towards paying for a Christmas party for children who have recently been freed.
After this experience, Levi has learnt that everyone can do something to make a difference no matter how small. “You don’t have to do a gala dinner, just as long as you are doing something, you are making a difference. I’m pretty sure if a thirteen-year-old can do it, anyone can.”