Wahroonga woman's 'school of change' for Hmong refugees

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jen Spoor at home in Wahroonga. Picture: JOE MURPHY

MOST people would find it hard to sleep at night after witnessing extreme hardship and poverty but unlike most people, Wahroonga woman Jen Spoor actually did something about it.

In 2008 after seeing children from Laos locked up in Thai refugee camp being educated in a tiny classroom, she returned home and set about initiating change.

“When you looked over the fence and saw those little children with these big eyes, it was really quite horrific,” Ms Spoor said.

“When I came home I was devastated, an absolute mess. I thought about how we live in such a privileged place and how surely there was something I could do.”

Steps with Hope was born out of help from the West Epping Uniting Church.

After a few jazz, trivia and garden parties at her home, Ms Spoor had enough money for a high school to run alongside the infant school.

Unfortunately in 2009 the refugees were sent back to Laos but Ms Spoor did not give up.

She teamed up with the Sangtawan Children’s Home Foundation, to support a school for Cambodian children being run on the Thai border.

“The children go to school in the morning, then walk home across the border to work in the fields all afternoon,” she said.

“They are very poor but just the most joyful children you have ever seen.”

It has been transformed from three tiny rooms into a whole new building catering for 70 children with three teachers, a co-ordinator and maintenance worker.

Steps with Hope now want to add guttering, a fence and a playground as well as holding a Christmas party.

If you can help Steps with Hope visit www.stepswithhope.org or phone Jen Spoor on 0414 230 162.


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