Jack's big serve a lesson in helping African children at school
JACK Conroy's cooking efforts have fed more than 3,800 bowls of porridge to children in African nation Malawi.
SCROLL down to read how a Malawian community is preparing to honour Alan Parker
The almost-eight-year-old says it is important to have a good, healthy breakfast before school to help you learn.
When Jack heard there were children in Malawi whose bowl of porridge they eat at nursery school might be their only proper meal every couple of days, he got cooking.
Once a term Jack serves up bowls of porridge to his fellow pupils at Buninyong Primary School's Scotsburn campus. The money he raises from $2 a serving gets sent to Kande where it can feed many more.
For each Australian five cents, one Malawian child gets to eat porridge at their nursery school.
Jack's work supports Mphatso Children's Foundation which was founded by long-time Buninyong resident Robyn Casey, who works alongside in a village called Mkuonda.
The charity foundation's work now stretches to villages in a 40-kilometre region along Lake Malawi.
Mphatso runs 13 nursery schools for 1000 pre-school aged children to get a good grasp on basic English and learning before starting primary school. This includes a daily bowl of porridge.
For Jack, there are plenty of ways to make porridge to the liking of his schoolmates and teachers. Honey on top is his suggestion for those new to the morning meal.
"You can use cinnamon, sugar and a bit of salt can make the taste balance," Jack said. "I get help from mum, my brother and my friends. It is really fun to cook."
Jack said knowing his cooking helps children in another country have a good school day simply made him "proud".
Mphatso also runs a baby formula program for infants whose mothers have died or are too ill to feed them. More: mphatso.org.
Alan Parker's lasting legacy to inspire greater learning
BELOVED Mount Clear College teacher and Ballarat cricket identity Alan Parker's legacy will continue to live on in a small village on the other side of the world.
A new education training centre in the Kande region of Malawai will be named in Alan's honour as a lasting nod to his passion in helping to empower communities who so warmly captured his heart on a charity visit.
Close friend and handyman Bruno Bomatali arrived in the village Mkuonda earlier this week to put the finishing touches on the centre that will formerly train Malawian teachers and offer the community an income from a education centre for international visitors to hire.
It was Bruno who first travelled with Alan to Malawi where they built a house for a mother-of-five under the Mphatso Children's Foundation, established by long-time Buninyong resident and friend Robyn Casey.
Alan's wife Jenny Parker said she felt a pull in her heart when boarding a plane the last time she left Malawi. This was a place now so special to her family.
Alan died in late 2013 after having taken Jenny to visit the community where he had hoped to one day return and help build an education training centre.
His sons Michael and Scott have each since ventured to Malawi to continue their dad's vision. Daughter Sarah hopes to visit once her young family is a little older.
Alan's passion for the Malawian community also captivated former student Haylea Vagg, who will travel with Jenny and Bruno's wife Jenny Bomatali for the centre opening.
Haylea would often skip class to hear Alan's tales and see his photos.
"That always stayed with me, his vision...He just wanted to help," Haylea said. "I wanted to keep going and supporting his legacy. Every community I went to, their lives had changed by the foundation's work - they could afford to feed their families with the jobs they had.
"...When you get there all the children come to meet you. It puts your life in perspective. They could be the sickest kids, they could only have the clothes they were wearing and some don't have house.
"I went over there thinking I was going to teach them lots but instead what they taught me was so much more."
Michael Parker said you could immediately tell why his dad was so driven to making a difference.
People in the village still remember his dad. The Parker family say they are incredibly humbled Alan's legacy will continue to help others not just in Ballarat, but also in Malawi.
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How you can help
Haylea Vagg is organising a trivia night to raise funds for Mphatso Children's Foundation and the education centre.
Hand-painted pictures made by the community, painted free-hand with the paint they make, is among the items for auction.
All money raised will go directly to the foundation to feed children, provide education, grow the community and help empower the community for the future.
The trivia night is at Victoria Bowling Club on Friday, August 9 from 7pm.
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