Pupils' baking skills help earthquake victims

The students of the RAK English Speaking School bake a cake and raise Dh26,000 for charities helping those affected in Haiti.

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RAS AL KHAIMAH // For 10-year-old South African Freda Burden, making a difference was a piece of cake. Her grade-six class helped the RAK English Speaking School raise more than Dh26,000 (US$7,000) when they held a non-uniform day and a bake sale to raise money for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. "It was fun and hard at the same time," said Freda. "It was really fun to do something practical. For me, the most difficult part was seeing what was happening in Haiti."

The class researched the events in Haiti and selected ShelterBox, which provides emergency shelter, and the musician Wyclef Jean's Yéle Haiti as the charities they would help. "We baked lots of cakes - with my mum's help, of course," said Freda. The cakes were sold for Dh2 a slice. The trick was to think big with small steps, and to have good organisation, said Freda's classmate Ruby Sayer. "It's hard because you have to plan it all out," said Ruby. "I was so surprised on how much we made for the free dress day. Lots of people brought Dh100 and a little girl even asked if she could bring Dh200."

"It really was the students who did everything," said Adrian O'Byrne, a Year Six teacher who helped to organise the fundraiser. "The children studied NGOs [non-governmental organisations] and human rights in class, and then the earthquake happened in Haiti. They were affected by it and they decided that they'd take action." The class's idea spread quickly through the school. The fundraiser was only meant to last a few days but pupils have continued to raise money through baking and crafts.

"They just wanted to do something quickly and get involved," said Monty Datoo, the head of secondary. "It proves they're internationally minded and caring." Ahmed Shamah, 15, from Russia, said: "In our class, we were five people and we raised Dh2,000. When I'm older and something like this happens, I know that I can make a change. An individual can make a difference." "We're all human beings and we need to look out for each other," said Ashley Vigliotti, 17, a Swiss student who baked chocolate chip cookies.

"It may not directly involve us in the UAE but we need to be involved. There's something that connects us all and that's why charity is so important." Ashley was due to manage a pillow-fight stall and face painting at the school's charity fair last night, in aid of the Red Crescent's UAE-based projects. Last year, the fair raised Dh60,000 for the Red Crescent which was used to build a mosque, a school and a women's centre in Togo. @Email:azacharias@thenational.ae