Six years ago, an encounter with a small, non-government literacy organisation in Laos fostered a link between Melbourne Girls Grammar and the Lao literacy charity, Big Brother Mouse. Over four years, the Year 2 Books for Laos Read-a-thon connected our young MGGS readers with children in the Southeast Asian country of Laos.
As we discovered, some Lao children in small, disadvantaged villages have not shared in the education opportunities that our girls have enjoyed. Some Lao children have never even seen a book. Our girls could not imagine a life without books and eagerly responded to the opportunity to show compassion to children in Laos.
At Morris Hall, we recognise the power of reading to capture our imaginations and unlock the world around us. As our girls mature into increasingly proficient readers, they readily reflect on the significance of books in their own lives.
With each Read-a-thon, our voracious readers have used their passion for reading as an important symbol to instigate change for our neighbours in Laos. In 2016, our Read-a-thon certainly grew. Every Morris Hall reader, from Prep all the way to Year 4, was invited to take part in the Morris Hall Books for Laos Read-a-thon. To anyone who enters Morris Hall and passes our communal reading tree, our commitment to sharing the gift of reading is clear. Over four weeks, our reading tree flourished as students from every year level added their leaves to signify books they had read during our shared Read-a-thon.
Khamla Panyasouk, co-founder of Big Brother Mouse, reflected on his experience of learning to read and the efforts of our readers:
“When I was a boy I learned the alphabet and I could read but I never owned a book and never saw a fun storybook. I didn’t know reading could be fun. Now, af-ter Big Brother Mouse goes to a school, that school will have children who love to read. Thank you for making that happen.”
With over $5000 raised so far and still counting, we look forward to seeing how our reading efforts this year will open the world of books for many more children in Laos. Thank you Morris Hall!