Jennifer Shaw was our Wet & Wild zone winner in March 2013. A PhD student at the University of Adelaide, Jenny was certain that she wanted to donate all of her $1,000 prize money to charity. Here she tells us why donating her prize was so important to her and how she decided on which charity to support:
Jenny: I decided to donate my prize money to ‘Room to Read’ because I felt that $1,000 has the potential to drastically change many children’s lives in poorer nations. I once lived in Africa for a couple of months and was shocked by the level of poverty that I saw.
Some children in developing countries don’t have access to basic education. There may not be a school in their village at all. Even if there is a school, they may not be able to afford materials such as books, or have any literate adults in the village who can teach them. Also, if the child is female she may not be able to attend school because in some communities only boys are allowed to go to school. As a result, there are many people in these countries who grow up unable to read or write, unable to get a job and unable to break the poverty cycle.
We live in a relatively wealthy country so we already have access to decent education and books. If we wish to learn about something all we have to do is look it up online or in a book or ask a teacher/adult who will find out for us. It is easy for us to take this all for granted. Knowledge is all around us and all we have to do is make an effort.
I wanted to give the money to a charity which helps children in poorer countries get a basic education. I just didn’t know which one. So I did lots of research online and I found ‘Room to Read’ which is a charity that promotes literacy and gender equality in developing nations. They provide text books to schools (written in the local language because not everyone can speak English), build new schools, set up local libraries, and promote gender equality in communities so that girls are allowed to attend school as well as boys.
Even if my $1,000 only buys books for one school, in one village, which allows a handful of children to learn to read and write, then that’s money well spent, because those children will go on to teach their children… and so on and so on.
Thanks Jenny for filling us in on how you have spent your prize money. It is great to hear how your achievement in I’m a Scientist is helping to reach out to engage and educate children beyond Australia.
Our next I’m a Scientist event will take place from 26th August – 6th September.