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Continued from P16
Some former students sponsor
younger children and even return at
weekends to help work at Bushfire.
Initially a home for children, a
health clinic, primary school and
church were established 14 years
ago. Since then, secondary and
vocational schools have been
added, farms for growing maize,
rice and animals developed. More
recently a small business centre
has been built in an adjacent
village where there is grid power
for equipment to mill maize and
rice for the 400 children at Bushfire
as well as providing a service to
local farmers. Many students have
graduated and go onto higher
education, with support of Bushfire,
or employment using the skills
The people and organisations
of Cooma have been generous
with support over many years.
Previously teams from Cooma
Baptist Church have travelled to
share their time and talent to help
the children. On this occasion, the
Listers took electrical equipment,
tools, surplus science equipment
from Monaro High School, soccer
shirts from Cooma Tigers, tooth
brushes and toothpaste donated
by a local dental surgery and even
second-hand wedding dresses as
well as financial gifts. The children
and staff are so encouraged that
people in Cooma care and provide
for them as they learn to better use
the resources they have and enable
hope for the future.
Ken spent most of his time doing
electrical work for the home. Not
being on grid power, the home uses
mainly diesel or solar for it’s power
source. Ken spent time showing the
staff some skills in installing the solar
power and working out electrical
loads. When some of the staff took
him to the mill in the nearby village
they operate, they used a wooden
stick to press a button to get the
machinery going. When Ken asked
why they did this, they said that
were they do press the button
with their finger, they would get an
electrical shock. Ken quickly found
the fault and resolved the matter for
With many children having lost
their parents to disease, or even
being murdered in front of them,
counselling is a service, which can
make a big difference to these
young people. Pauline offers her
services as a counsellor to talk
to the children and listen to their
experiences and help them through
their feelings. Unfortunately, many
are also the victims of abuse.
“The community at Bushfire are
so grateful for what we do for them,
but they are even more grateful to
know there are people who care for
them,” says Ken.
“I make a point of telling them
there are many people in Cooma
who care for them.”
There are about 500 people on
base at the Bushfire Home. About
100 are staff and 84 are considered
orphans or children at risk. The rest
are children from the local village.
Relying heavily on donations and
the small income from their mill, it
costs about $200 per day to feed
the whole community. This is done
largely through their farm on which
they grow fruits and vegetables.
The costs of a three month term
at primary school is AU$90 and
secondary or vocational student
is AU$180 covering education,
accommodation and food. When
students leave from Bushfire for
Technical College in Jinja or if
they display academic gifts at a
University in Kampala, the costs are
AU$1000 or A$1250 respectively
each six month semester. There
is no government support and all
expenses must be met from farm
sales, sponsorship or donations.
It is a government requirement
that the teachers be paid a
minimum wage and indeed
the government expects non-
government schools to pay a
registration fee for each student.
A 100kg bag of rice which costs
AU$130 provides for two-three
meals! Apart from teachers,
Bushfire staff are paid are a very
small allowance or some are on a
Pauline and Ken plan to return
and there is likely that another team
from Cooma may visit for a couple
of weeks in 2018. If you or your
organisation would like to find out
more or would like to help, contact
Pauline or Ken on 64523442.
Top: Bushfire Primary School.
Middle: Primary Students.
Above: Secondary students doing Physics experiment using
equipment from Monaro High School.
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