China’s School in a Cave – Operated for 23 Years.

CAVE SCHOOL:  The school closed, but the kids still don’t have a school!

How do you get to school?  Do you take the school bus, walk, ride your bike or are you driven by car?  Do you like to learn?   Here is a story about kids in a poor province of China that were willing to walk up to three hours to get to school.  When they got to class – it was in a CAVE.  The school had been going for 23 years, but then the government closed it down.  They said that “China isn’t a society of cave men.”  They have not opened another school.  Maybe this will make you feel more grateful to have a school in your neighbourhood?

School had its own basketball court

How the School Started

Donzhong is in Guizhou which is one of China’s poorest provinces.  When the government was slow to provide a school, the local villagers started a school in a local cave.  In 1984 the school started with 8 teachers and 186 students.  The school was shut down in 2007, but the ex-principal has great memories of it.  The cave had great acoustics so that they had one of the best choirs in their province.  He said that they needed need books for biology as the cave had bats and rats.

Closed Down but No School Yet.  Where was the school?

It is 2017 as I write about this cave school and I have not been able to find out if the villagers have another school.  Let’s hope that the eager children of this village will be able to get an education.  Every child in this world deserves to have an education.

Indian Schools – On a Train Platform or Under a Bridge


After China, India has the biggest population of any country.  The Indian government and parents want all children to be educated, but this is not possible for a number of reasons.  There are more children than schools!

Imagine a country with more children then schools.  Some families are so poor that children have to work, although this is illegal.  Schools are incredibly overcrowded, but to escape poverty and get good jobs in the future, parents and students are willing to suffer this overcrowding.

Train platform schools

Children attend school on train platforms across India

These schools across India help the poorest of children to get an education.  There are over 4,000 students whose classroom is a railway platform.

Under the bridge 

This school is based beneath a very busy road

This school in India  is organised by volunteers for poor children who aren’t enrolled in the school system. It is located in the city of New Delhi and situated beneath an overpass. Volunteers teach children the basics of reading, numeracy (numbers) and English. The school has been going for 10 years and has about 300 students.

So what do you think about these two stories?  Remember that India also has excellent schools that graduate doctors, engineers and other professional people.  India is a country that has rich and poor and those who fit in between.   Make sure that you appreciate school.  And maybe, in the future, you might like to volunteer or help as a professional person in developing countries.

The Laughing Buddha in Many Chinese and Thai Restaurants

The Laughing Buddha in Many Chinese and Thai Restaurants

I really enjoy eating Chinese and Thai food.   I have often seen a statue of the “Laughing Buddha” displayed near the entrance.  One day, I asked the owner to explain why so many restaurants have this statue.

She told me that people like to have fun when they go out of their homes to eat in restaurants.  It is important for restaurant owners to know that people are having a good time.  The Laughing Buddha statue often makes visitors laugh when they see it.  It reminds them that our days should be spent having joy and appreciating the good things in our life.

What Good Things?

I asked the restaurant owner what she thought were the good things in our life.  She told me:

  You can see

You can hear

You can talk

You can walk

You have food and a home

You are not in a war zone

She Told Me About the Ant

Most Buddhist parents tell their children about the ant.  It is well-known that the ant has a good attitude.  This attitude allows it to carry many things that are heavier than itself.  When the ant carries something like a grain of rice, this is a great act of courage and determination.  He is the best ant that he can be.  But, when a horse carries a grain of rice, it is not such a great achievement.   Each person can be an ant and do the best that he or she can do.

For students and adults alike, some tasks allow us to be ants.  We pull out ‘all the stops’ and struggle to get things done.  On other days, we meet a new task and it is NOT difficult.  On those days we are horses and if we have compassion and kindness, we can see those ‘ants’ struggling and try to help them.

Pu-Tai – the Laughing Buddhist Monk


Each Buddhist monk reflects or lives the way of The Buddha.   The laughing Buddha is not the original Buddha, but the Buddha certainly wanted to make people laugh.  His life was about helping others, being kind and laughing.

Buddhist monks

Pu-Thai was a real person and a Buddhist monk who followed the ways of his master, the Buddha.  He would visit villages in many countries and tell people about the Buddha.  He always brought candy (sweets) and surprises for children.  He liked to laugh.  When he knew he was dying – he called his monks and told them to burn his body.  This was unusual at the time as monks were buried.

When he died, they followed his wishes.  Wow, were they surprised when they set fire to his body – fireworks went out in all directions.

fireworks from a dead monk Pu-Thai

The happy monk had hidden fireworks and rockets in his clothing.  His cremation caused much laughter and those watching knew that he was happy in the next world.

Kids: Here are Some Great Ways to Look After Your Dog


A dog is part of the family.

It has rights like you.  It needs to be fed.  It needs to be loved.

It does not need to be treated unkindly – yelled at, kicked, dragged, etc.

You would not like this to happen to you.  Animals feel pain like humans and they can feel fear.

-They do not understand your language – only a few words like

“Come”  “Sit”  “Down”  “Up” and maybe a few more.

You Have Made Mistakes, too!

As a human, you have made mistakes.   Someone told you about your mistake.

You understood them because you speak their langugage.   A dog needs to shown gently about his or her mistake.   Sometimes, it takes time for the dog to get it right.  Do the right thing – have kindness and patience.


 O.K Human Person – You are NOT going to Play Today!

Imagine the situation.  You are NOT sick.   You have not been bad.  Your parents simply won’t give you permission to go outside and play.  Let’s make it a lovely sunny day.   You want to know – Why not?

“I have my ball, let’s play!”

If you don’t take your dog out for walks – you are doing this to him or her.  Dogs like humans like to play and have fun.  Dogs can smell things better than humans.   When a dog is outside, it is like smelling things that you really like – smells of french fries or a bbq.  Dogs need to stop and smell things.  Don’t drag a dog along – let him or her stop and smell things.

Never Hit or Kick an Animal!

One dog knows that the other dog is hurt

If someone kicked you badly and you were in pain, your parents would take you to the doctor or hospital.  If the pain was really bad, you would get pills or pain killers.  You can speak and tell adults that you are in pain.


An animal cannot do this.   If your dog has been hit or kicked, it will have to suffer hours of pain.  This is just NOT fair.  If you are angry with your dog, walk away and tell your parents about it.  I’ll bet that your dog really does not fully understand what it did.

Think of Your Dog Like it was a Toddler

I will explain what I mean.   A toddler has accidents – it knocks over things.  It may pee somewhere other than the toilet.  You can yell at the toddler but it does not understand your language.  In fact, if you yell or shake it, the toddler will cry.   Its the same with your dog – the dog cries inside.  Its feelings are hurt.   A dog wants to please.  Be gentle and kind with it.


Don’t Feed Human Food to Your Dog!

Don’t give your dog human food

It is NOT kind to feed a dog things that you eat, unless its a nice piece of steak that you couldn’t eat.  What I am writing about is things like donuts or French fries.    NEVER give your dog CHOCOLATE – it can kill or make your dog very sick.  If you want to reward it, give the dog doggie treats.

Look after your dog/cat/any pet-  and you will never regret it!


Child Chimney Sweeps – Not SO “Mary Poppins”!

 Chimney Sweeps – Victorian Child Labour

The Older Queen Victoria

I would like to take you back 180 years in time.  The country is Great Britain and a baby girl, named Victoria is born in 1837.  She lived for many years as Queen.

Tough Life for Kids

Kensington Palace where Victoria lived as a child

While Victoria was a young child, she lived in a lovely house with servants.  She had the best education, lovely clothes and had the best medical care if she fell sick.


When Victoria was only 2 years of age, children as young of six were being used as chimney sweeps.  The houseowner did not have electricity so coal was used.  After many fires coal dust or soot would collect and start to block the chimney.  It was the job of the chimney sweeps – mostly boys – to go down the chimneys which were very narrow and knock away the soot.

It was a very dirty and dangerous job.  Kids could get stuck.  After climbing up and down several times the chimney sweep boy would have to collect all the soot in the fireplace that had fallen down.  They would work long hours that included Saturdays.  They seldom had clean clothes.  Life was hard for them.

Parliament Makes New Laws

When Victoria was 3 years of age (and not Queen) Parliament made it a law that no one under the age of 21 years could go down chimneys.  Many head chimney sweeps disobeyed the law and in 1875, when Victoria was now Queen, a 12 year old boy died when his boss made him clean a hospital chimney.  Everyone, including the Queen was shocked because she now had children of her own.

Now a new law came out that required all Master Chimney sweeps to register with the police.  More checks were made so that no kids were hired to go down chimneys.

Somewhat Better Lives for Kids

When it was now the law not to send kids down chimneys, their health improved.  Before this new law, kids had lung diseases as the soot entered the lungs.  Some died of cancer of the lungs.

Now, kids had a chance of going to school instead of working.

The long hours that kids worked in the mines, in factories and as young servants were reduced.  However, it took many, many more years until kids were required to go to school full time.  With better education, many kids were able to help their families with higher paying jobs.

Child Labour in Other Countries

Please take your education seriously and do your best.  This will help you in the future.  I just want you to know that there is still child labour in many countries of the world.  You can join a club at school or in your church/synagogue/mosque/temple to help children go to school in these countries.



Hi Everyone.   You have probably made a card for Mother’s Day or bought her some flowers.Some kids do not have mother’s, but they can love someone else who is kind to them.


Mothers work hard and so do dads.   Some mom’s work full or part time and still manage to cook, clean and work to make your life easier.

Here are Some Way to Help your Mom Every Day

When you come home – take off your shoes and put them away.

Then hang up your clothes and put your school bag in one place.


YOU don’t have to be a genius to make your own bed.



If you keep things in the same place, they are easy to find when you want them.

Use a Basketball Move

-Toss your dirty clothes in the laundry basket…3 points

-Toss old paper and food wrapper in a bin……2 points.

-Your mom doesn’t ask you to clean HER room, so why do you expect her to clean your room?

Go Team Go!

Many sports work as a team.  They share the work so that no player gets too tired.  If you have brothers and sisters, form a team.  “Call it by a good name – say, “Team Mom” or choose your own great name.

Put up a list and change the days so that everyone gets to do something New.

Mon.                  Tues.                                 Wed.

Sue lays           Paul lays table.                   Paul takes

table.               Sue waters plants.              out trash/rubbish

Paul dusts.                                                Sue lays table

Both Paul and Sue fill their water bottles and return their

food not eaten from school.  Each picks a fruit or treat

and places it in their bag for next school day.  Kids should take turns feeding animals.

Mom Cooks – Kids place plates in Dishwasher

Each home has a different routine.   Homework may be done before or after the main evening meal.

Going to Bed

Choose your clothes for the next school day.  Have everything ready so that you don’t have a rushed morning.

Make it a good habit to read a book.  Words are used in all subjects and the more you know the better it will be for your marks.

Some families say prayers before going to sleep.  I know young people who wake up and thank God for being:

able to see……… to hear

able to walk……….able to shower with water

able to eat food……able to feel safe (no wars).

We Need to Care About Others

Some kids just sit back and let their parents do things for them.  This is NOT fair.  Just as you get tired, so do parents.  Be fair.  Help your parents.  I know you probably do – so ‘thank you.’

There’s a Child Wishing He or She Could Go to School

If you are attending school, I want to tel you that you are very lucky.  You may protest and say “I hate school” or “School’s O.K” or “I really like school.

This boy is from Pakistan

School is Like a Key to a Door

If you have a good education and certain skills, that is your “KEY” to being successful.  Most students would like to drive a brand new car and have lovely clothes when they leave school.  These things cost money – lots of money.  But, being in school you have a chance to make a great life for yourself.

This girl is from India


Kids That Have to Leave School

These boys are from Africa

There are over 168 million kids that have been forced to leave school and work. There are 100 million boys and 68 million girls.  About 84 million kids work in dangerous conditions that could leave them blind, without arms/legs or just killed.  The colour orange is where most of the ‘child labour’ occurs.  It is illegal, but people do it anyway.

Most kids work in the fields – agriculture

Since they are kids with little education and often no skills, they work hard and are paid little money.  They work long hours, often six days a week.  Sometimes, they don’t get paid, and what rights or power does a poor kids have?

School Groups:

Does your school have a program where you can find out about child labour and help?

Here is one link


Show these to your teacher and principal.  Let’s make a difference.


Kiwi Kids Celebrate an Indian Hindu Festival

It is wonderful when schools and communities share and celebrate other cultures.   Here in New Zealand families from the town of Marlborough, children from Te Kupenga Preschool, welcomed their own grape festival by celebrating the Holidays festival.

Rainbow of Colours

Khloe-Rose Fishburn, of Te Kupenga Preschool, celebrates the Holi festival with a splash of colour.

It looks like a lot of fun.


Spreading the colourful love at the Holi festival at Te Kupenga Preschool.

The Holi Festival is about celebrating the love you have for other people.


Children from the preschool shrieked in delight as they threw handfuls of the powder into the air and at each other.  Well done to everyone.


No.1 Girl Scout of Cookies Sales – How Many Did She Sell?


Fifteen year old Girl Scout, Katie Francis lives in Oklahoma City, USA.   Girl Scouts are called Girl Guides in other countries.  I was one, maybe, you are in Guides or Scouts, Brownies or Cubs?

Imagine How Many Boxes She Sold

Katie Francis has been in the organisation for seven years.  She smashed all recent cookie sales (biscuits) by reaching 100,100 bones.

How Does She Do It?

Katie has told everyone that she has three rules:

  1. “Time” – You need to devote as much time as you can.
  2. “Commitment:” – You have to want to do it.
  3. “Ask Everyone.:” – Don’t get shy if a few people have refused.  Keep asking.

 Use every hour of the day
Cookie season usually only goes on for a few short months each spring. That means there’s no time to lose, says Katie.
“I go out selling cookies until I get home at night. And on Saturdays I sell all day long. I take every single hour that I can to go sell,” she says.
Do A Good Set Up
“I make sure that I have all my signs ready. I have a few that I put up on my cookie booth that advertise what we’re doing for that year — what my goal is, what my troupe is going to be doing,” she explains.

“Whenever there’s good weather a lot of girls are always out so the market gets kinda saturated, and other years it’s absolutely freezing and snowing, and not many people want to stop at a booth to buy,” Katie notes.  But, she knows that if she is there in bad weather, people like her commitment.

)It’s not a contest – be kind to other cookie sellers
Besides, she notes, “one of the last lines of our Girl Scout law is ‘be a sister to every Girl Scout,’ and everyone always follows that. It’s really amazing.”

 Sing and Dance
When sales are slow, she explains, “I like to sing and dance to help attract customers’ attention.”
“I’ve sung songs to Christmas tunes, Girl Scout songs and popular songs. ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman’ is a real popular one,” she observes, citing the tune from Disney’s “Frozen” movie.
Even if you are not a Scout or Girl Guide, you can learn from Katie Francis.
She does not give up.    She thinks of others because the sales helps other
Scouts and Guides.   Be the best that you can be.

Russian Nesting or Stacking Dolls

Here are two maps of Russia:

If you visit Russia, you will see lots of these stacking dolls that go inside one another.  Here is a picture below.

They are called    “Matryoshika” or “babushka” dolls.   The word “babushka” means  grandmother.

Here are some facts about the Matryoshika dolls.

1. The idea of a nesting or stacking idea came from Japan.

2. The first Matryoshka wooden stacking doll was made by Vasily Zvyozdochlin and painted by Sergey Malyutin in 1890

3. The first painted stacking doll was of a mother and her seven children.

The Different Cultures in Russia

Russia is a very big country.  There are people who look different from one another.  The people who live outside of the cities are mostly farmers.  The women often use their cultural clothes.  They are proud of their ancestors. The stacking dolls show the different clothes.